Guide on DHA – Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid

Guide on DHA – Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid

In the modern quest for longevity and optimum performance, the spotlight increasingly falls on nutrition and the pivotal role certain nutrients play in supporting our health.

The cornerstone of maintaining both a robust body and a sharp mind lies in the awareness of our dietary choices, particularly during critical life stages such as pregnancy, infancy, productive years, and old age.

Among the myriad of nutrients essential for our well-being, omega-3 fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have garnered significant attention for their vast array of health benefits and key roles in many important bodily functions.

As a key component of cell membranes, DHA is crucial for the healthy development and maintenance of physical and mental capabilities throughout a person's lifetime. It supports optimal brain function, eye health, cardiovascular function, and fetal development.

Despite its critical importance, modern diets often lack sufficient DHA, posing a challenge to maintaining optimal health.

This comprehensive guide explores the numerous benefits of docosahexaenoic acid, including its dietary sources and how to choose the right DHA supplement for your needs.

What is DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)?

Docosahexaenoic Acid, universally known as DHA is a special type of omega-3 fatty acid that is a major structural component for two very important parts of our body: our brain and our eyes.

Research reveals a fascinating correlation between our ancestors' consumption of seafood and the remarkable development of the human brain, suggesting that our cerebral evolution may have been fueled by DHA-rich diets [1]. This theory highlights the critical role of DHA in cognitive development and function.

Think of DHA as a building block. Just as bricks are to a house, DHA is to our cells, particularly our brain cells. It's found in high concentrations in the membranes that envelop our cells, keeping them flexible enough for essential activities like nutrient absorption and waste elimination.

Our bodies naturally produce DHA, but only in limited quantities. Therefore, it's important we get most of it through our diet or supplements. DHA is what we may refer to as an 'essential' fatty acid because our bodies cannot produce enough of it for our needs, making it an essential part of our daily nutritional intake.

Consuming adequate amounts of this crucial nutrient has been connected to healthy mental and physical development in infants, well-balanced mental faculties in adults, and a myriad of other health benefits which we shall explore further.

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How Does DHA Work to Support Optimal Health?

DHA is a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, meaning it has many double bonds in its structure which makes it very flexible. This flexibility allows it to perform various critical roles, especially in the brain and retina. supporting our health from the foundational cellular level.

In the brain, DHA is found in the outer membrane of brain cells, or neurons. Here, it contributes to the fluidity, flexibility, and therefore, the overall health and function of these membranes.

Why is this important?

Healthy membranes mean healthy brain cells, which means more efficient communication across the vast network of neurons within your body.

In simpler terms, DHA helps the cell membranes to remain 'fluid' which is crucial for the healthy growth and maintenance of individual brain cells—helping in their communication. It's thought that this communication support could help promote mental agility as we age, and it plays a mediating role in our response to stress and supports our mood balance.

In our eyes, particularly the retinas, DHA forms the structural base of the cells that capture light and help us see. It has a similar role in maintaining cellular integrity here, contributing to visual acuity and overall eye health.

Another important benefit of the omega-3 DHA is its role in supporting a healthy inflammatory response, which helps the body maintain a balanced immune defense, healthy cardiovascular function, and other health outcomes that are crucial for our long-term well-being.

Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid

The unique health benefits of DHA omega-3 stem from its structural role in cell membranes, particularly those in the brain, eyes, and skin.

By targeting the tissues that sustain human life, DHA confers far-reaching benefits and can support many aspects of our biological functions—positively influencing our wellness from the womb to old age.

Here is an overview of the benefits of docosahexaenoic acid:

Fetal and Infant Development

DHA is of pronounced importance because of its role in the growth and development of fetal and infant neurology and visual systems [2].

The brain grows at an incredible rate during the last trimester of pregnancy and early childhood, and DHA is a significant component of the brain's cerebral cortex – the part that's responsible for memory, attention, thought, consciousness, and language.

An adequate intake of DHA supplements in pregnancy is correlated with optimized infant brain development, suggesting it could support cognitive function and learning capabilities.

Additionally, DHA contributes to the development of the retina, which may influence the infant's visual acuity – that is, their ability to discern shapes and details.

But the benefits of docosahexaenoic acid don't stop after birth. DHA continues to be vital in supporting the growth and healthy development of infants. The provision of DHA to the developing baby, both in the womb and outside, may well lay down a solid foundation for better health outcomes later in life.

The focus on DHA during these formative stages highlights its significance in the life cycle and reinforces its status as a cornerstone nutrient for developing young humans.

Eyes and Vision

Our eyes, especially the retinas, have one of the highest concentrations of DHA in the body. Maintaining adequate levels of DHA may support visual development in infants and overall eye health across the lifespan [3].

DHA is a major structural component of the retinal cellular membranes. Think of these membranes as the biological 'film' in the camera of your eyes. It's this 'film' that captures the light, allowing us to see the world in vivid detail.

What DHA does is ensure this 'film' remains intact and functions effectively, thereby playing a supportive role in maintaining vision health.

Benefits of DHA Omega-3 on the Brain

DHA's influence on the brain is profound and enduring across the entire span of human life [4]. The cerebral cortex, which is vital for many higher-order brain functions including memory, attention, and decision-making, is substantially composed of DHA. This makes the fatty acid a critical component in the architecture of our brain's neural network.

DHA also contributes to the plasticity of brain cells, meaning it helps neurons change and adapt, which is the foundation of learning and memory. This is critical not only for children in their growing years but also for adults and seniors who aim to keep their minds agile.

Its concentration in areas associated with cognitive function implies a role in promoting a healthy brain aging process. It's suggested that with adequate DHA levels, the brain’s resilience against age-related cognitive decline could be supported, leaving the doors open for a lifetime of learning and mental acuity.

Evidence on the benefits of docosahexaenoic acid also suggests that it may support a balanced emotional response and a healthy outlook, which is an important aspect of our well-being and quality of life.

Maintaining a diet with sufficient levels of DHA or taking a high-quality DHA supplement is, therefore, an investment in our neurological health and well-being—one with dividends that may be paid out now and, in the future, as we get older.

Benefits of DHA Supplement for Heart Health

DHA is linked to supporting a healthy heart rate, a healthy inflammatory response, and healthy blood pressure levels, contributing to cardiovascular wellness [5].

Another benefit of docosahexaenoic acid for acid is its role in supporting the body's natural handling of fats in the bloodstream. It's thought to promote healthy triglyceride levels, which in turn, may contribute to overall cardiovascular well-being.

Benefits of DHA Omega-3 for Skin Health

Our skin is our body's shield, the first line of defense against the outside world, and its health is paramount. DHA, with its structural and regulatory roles, is a beneficial nutrient for skin health.

As a critical component of cell membranes, DHA contributes to the integrity and fluidity of skin cells. This ensures that our skin cells function optimally, reflected in the healthy appearance and resilience of the skin.

DHA Omega-3 Sources

While fish and seafood are the most common sources of DHA, there are vegan omega-3 sources available for those who follow a plant-based diet due to personal preferences (vegan/vegetarian lifestyles), allergies to fish, and environmental concerns from the risk of contaminants in fish.

Some plant-based omega-3 sources include chia seeds, brussels sprouts, walnuts, and flaxseed. While they may appear as great vegan omega-3 sources, they typically contain only alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is not as active in the body. When consumed, it must be converted to the more active eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA.

However, this conversion is inefficient in humans with only 0.5% of ALA converted to DHA [6]. This makes it difficult to obtain optimal DHA from vegetarian diets alone, which is where algae oil comes in.

Algae are at the heart of the marine food web. They synthesize DHA through biochemical processes, imbuing the aquatic ecosystem with this crucial nutrient.

By doing so, algae become a primary source of DHA for marine organisms, including fish and shellfish, which in turn become dietary sources for humans and other animals. This natural process underlines algae's pivotal role in the nutrition chain, acting as a cornerstone for DHA availability in the natural world.

Algae-based supplements are a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to fish oil supplements.

Since algae oil does not come from fish or shellfish, it eliminates concerns about environmental contaminants and allergies. Moreover, algae oil provides DHA in a highly bioavailable and concentrated form, making it an excellent supplement to experience the benefits of DHA omega-3.

What’s the Best DHA Supplement to Experience the Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid?

If you’re looking to enjoy the benefits of DHA omega-3, Ascent Nutrition’s Algae Oil DHA supplement is one of the best options in the market.

The DHA supplement is derived from a vegan source and provides a potent dose of DHA to support brain health, heart health, eye health, and overall well-being.

Algae Oil DHA by Ascent Nutrition is made from carefully selected wild-strain algae, ensuring a pure and potent source of DHA.

The manufacturing process adheres to strict quality standards, and the supplement is free from toxic additives, making it a safe and reliable choice for those looking to incorporate high-quality omega-3 DHA into their diet.

With a 2.0 mL serving of Algae Oil DHA, you can easily meet the omega-3 daily recommended intake of 1,000 mg of DHA. This is comparable to 5-11 average servings of salmon (3 oz) per week.


  1. Bradbury, J. (2011). Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): an ancient nutrient for the modern human brain. Nutrients, 3(5), 529-554:

  2. Coletta, J. M., Bell, S. J., & Roman, A. S. (2010). Omega-3 fatty acids and pregnancy. Reviews in obstetrics and gynecology, 3(4), 163:

  3. Hodge, W., Barnes, D., Schachter, H. M., Pan, Y., Lowcock, E. C., Zhang, L., ... & Lewin, G. (2005). Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on eye health. Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet]:

  4. Weiser, M. J., Butt, C. M., & Mohajeri, M. H. (2016). Docosahexaenoic acid and cognition throughout the lifespan. Nutrients, 8(2), 99:

  5. Khan, S. U., Lone, A. N., Khan, M. S., Virani, S. S., Blumenthal, R. S., Nasir, K., ... & Bhatt, D. L. (2021). Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. EClinicalMedicine, 38:

  6. Plourde, M., & Cunnane, S. C. (2007). Extremely limited synthesis of long chain polyunsaturates in adults: implications for their dietary essentiality and use as supplements. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism, 32(4), 619-634:

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