Food and Behaviour Research

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Essential role of docosahexaenoic acid towards development of a smarter brain

Gharami K, Das M, Das S (2015) Neurochem Int.  2015 89:51-62. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2015.08.014. 

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Evolution of the high order brain function in humans can be attributed to intake of poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) of which the ω-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has special significance. DHA is abundantly present in the human brain and is an essential requirement in every step of brain development like neural cell proliferation, migration, differentiation, synaptogenesis etc. The multiple double bonds and unique structure allow DHA to impart special membrane characteristics for effective cell signaling.
Evidences indicate that DHA accumulate in areas of the brain associated with learning and memory. Many development disorders like dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia etc. are causally related to decreased level of DHA.
The review discusses the various reports of DHA in these areas for a better understanding of the role of DHA in overall brain development. Studies involving laboratory animals and clinical findings in cases as well as during trials have been taken into consideration. Additionally the currently available dietary source of DHA for supplementation as nutraceutics with general caution for overuse has been examined.