Impact of DHA on metabolic diseases from womb to tomb.

Mar Drugs. 2014 Dec 18;12(12):6190-212


Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) are important mediators in improving and maintaining human health over the total lifespan. One topic we especially focus on in this review is omega-3 LC-PUFA docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Adequate DHA levels are essential during neurodevelopment and, in addition, beneficial in cognitive processes throughout life. We review the impact of DHA on societal relevant metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM). All of these are risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia in later life. DHA supplementation is associated with a reduced incidence of both stroke and atherosclerosis, lower bodyweight and decreased T2DM prevalence. These findings are discussed in the light of different stages in the human life cycle: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and in later life. From this review, it can be concluded that DHA supplementation is able to inhibit pathologies like obesity and cardiovascular disease. DHA could be a dietary protector against these metabolic diseases during a person's entire lifespan. However, supplementation of DHA in combination with other dietary factors is also effective. The efficacy of DHA depends on its dose as well as on the duration of supplementation, sex, and age.

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