What Is DHA? 

by Melissa Chichester

Fish oil and seafood are sources of one of the most important nutrients the body needs – omega-3 fatty acids. 

Omega-3 fatty acids support heart health, skin health, and joint health.*  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating at least 2 servings of fish every week to receive an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, most Americans do not receive the intake they need to meet current recommendations.

There are three primary omega-3 fatty acids. 

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – found in plant oils and cannot be made by the body
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – mostly found in seafood; made by the body in small amounts
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – mostly found in seafood; made by the body in small amounts

Fish oil contains two types of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). This includes different types of fish oil, including krill oil, salmon oil, and cod liver oil

All omega-3 fatty acids are important, but DHA has some qualities that make it stand out. 

What’s different about DHA?

DHA is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain. The FDA notes that DHA in addition to EPA plays a role in supporting brain development. This includes during pregnancy and in early childhood. It is naturally found in breast milk. DHA is also highly concentrated in the retina of the eye and supports eye health.* 

Increasing DHA intake through diet

Certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA. To increase your intake, try incorporating these foods into your diet regularly:

  • Salmon 
  • Anchovies
  • Herring 
  • Sardines
  • Oysters
  • Trout
  • Mackerel

Popular white fish including haddock, tilapia, and cod are typically lower in essential fatty acids. In addition, frying fish lowers the content of omega-3 fatty acids in foods. 

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DHA supplements

If you’re looking to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and DHA, supplements can help.

At Puritan’s Pride, DHA is available on its own or combined with other nutrients. 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to taking a fish oil supplement, so ask your doctor for help when choosing a supplement. There are recommendations for omega-3 intake based on age and lifestyle, and a doctor who knows your personal history will provide the best advice.