|Docosahexanoic acid (C22:6, DHA) is a highly unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid that forms part of the central nervous and visual system structures.
DHA is synthesized from its precursor, alfa-linolenic acid, that is also a omega-3 fatty acid and can be obtained from vegetable oils. Marine organisms, specially fish, are good nutritional sources of DHA and eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), another omega-3 fatty acid that has a role in vascular homeostasis.
DHA increases membrane fluidity, improving neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and the activity of retinal photoreceptors. The fetus, specially during the last trimester of pregnancy, has high DHA requirements. It is provided by the mother, since fetal DHA synthesis is negligible in this stage of development.
Breast feeding provides DHA to the child, but most replacement artificial formulas do not provide this fatty acid. At the present moment, many products for infant nutrition contain DHA.