What is DHA? Well, first off DHA is not the same as DHEA, which is a steroid hormone. And, it’s not the same as DOA (dead on arrival), either. DHA is somewhere between steroids and death. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water fish and in seaweed. It stands for docosahexaenoic acid and is closely related to EPA, or eicosanpentaenoic acid, another omega-3 fatty acid. In fact, you usually see the two mentioned together as in EPA DHA, or DHA EPA. DHA can be converted to EPA, though. The body can make small amounts of DHA, but we must get a majority of it through our diets.
Health Benefits of DHA
DHA is found as an ingredient in baby formula during the first four months because it helps brain development and is naturally found in breast milk. DHA is being used more and more in the management of diabetes, heart disease, ADHD, dementia, depression, and macular degeneration.
EPA and DHA are used in combination to treat asthma, cancer, menstrual pain, hay fever, SLE, high cholesterol and triglycerides, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, and to stabilize abnormal heart rhythms.
DHA and EPA Supplements
A vast majority of Americans do not obtain enough DHA and EPA in the diets. Fortunately, supplements (fish oil supplements) are readily available. In fact, high quality fish oil may have some benefits over eating fish as some fish contain low levels of mercury. To research the quality of fish oil supplements to go the International Fish Oil Standards Program (IFOS).
DHA and Interactions
DHA is generally safe but if you are on some medications you should be aware of some possible interactions. It can lower blood pressure. So you may need an adjustment in your blood pressure medication if you take DHA. It does thin the blood and can increase bleeding time so don’t take it without discussing with your physician first if you take blood thinners like aspirin, Plavix, coumadin, Xarelto, Pradaxa, or Eliquis as you might require lower doses of these medications.
DHA can lower blood sugar which might necessitate a reduction in diabetic medications.
You can see that these interactions are kind of “positive” negative interactions as taking DHA may lead to lower doses of prescription medications. You just need to make your doctor knows you are taking DHA if you are being treated with one of the above medications.