You probably already know about the important role omega-3 fatty acids play in mental health. A study earlier this year found a connection between omega-3 consumption and ADHD symptoms in children and two studies last year found connections between omega-3 consumption and depression and bipolar symptoms.
And you might even be taking omega-3 supplements yourself to boost your own mental health. But are you taking the right kind of omega-3 fatty acids?
The omega-3 fatty acid that seems to be the most essential to normal functioning of neural tissue is DHA (short for docosahexaenoic acid). It plays a role in cognitive performance, learning ability, memory, and so on. It actually comprises virtually all of the omega-3 fatty acid found in brain tissue.
That being said, DHA isn’t consumed in anywhere near the same amount as we consume ALA (a-linolenic acid), a plant-based omega-3. In fact, while the average North American consumes 2–3 grams per day of ALA, we consume only 0.05–0.08 g of DHA (and its close relative EPA) per day.
DHA is naturally found in several foods. Here are the top 7, in order of highest to lowest concentration:
If you want to learn more about the importance of DHA in your diet, check out this research page on the DHA/EPA Omega-3 Institute website. Remember to check out the research articles listed at the bottom of the page.