Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a fundamental fatty acid for the brain: New dietary sources

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2017 Sep;124:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2017.08.001. Epub 2017 Aug 14.


Docosahexaenoic acid (C22: 6n-3, DHA) is a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid of marine origin fundamental for the formation and function of the nervous system, particularly the brain and the retina of humans. It has been proposed a remarkable role of DHA during human evolution, mainly on the growth and development of the brain. Currently, DHA is considered a critical nutrient during pregnancy and breastfeeding due their active participation in the development of the nervous system in early life. DHA and specifically one of its derivatives known as neuroprotectin D-1 (NPD-1), has neuroprotective properties against brain aging, neurodegenerative diseases and injury caused after brain ischemia-reperfusion episodes. This paper discusses the importance of DHA in the human brain given its relevance in the development of the tissue and as neuroprotective agent. It is also included a critical view about the ways to supply this noble fatty acid to the population.

Keywords: Brain development; Breastfeeding; Docosahexaenoic acid; Neuroprotection; New dietary sources; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Reperfusion Injury / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids
  • protectin D1
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids