Omega-3 (n-3) long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs), including eicosahexaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are dietary fats linked with health benefits along the life span of an individual. These include a role in anti-inflammatory processes, viscosity of cell membranes, fetal development, and healthy aging. Since DHA is a key component of all cell membranes and is abundant in the brain and retina, much of the work has been focused on the perinatal period and the first 1,000 days of life. Literature exists underscoring the critical significance of healthy growth and development in the first 1,000 days of life in relation to morbidity and mortality. Towards this end, this period of growth may also be critical to the development of the brain and neurocognitive outcome. For women and children, optimal intake of DHA and a proper healthy diet could improve overall human health as well as decrease morbidity and mortality from a variety of neonatal diseases. The sources of DHA in a human diet, its presence in human breast milk, as well as the high concentrations in the human eye and brain are outlined. Further, the importance of maintaining an appropriate concentration of DHA throughout pregnancy, lactation, and the first 1,000 days is discussed since insufficient supply of DHA can impact mental and visual development and performance.

PMID 27842317

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