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Rediscovering DHA

Rediscovering DHA

Americans—particularly baby boomers—are generally living longer than previous generations. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll enjoy more years of good health, despite being more active than their parents or grandparents. The top concerns for healthy aging range from heart failure and cardiac arrest to everyday functioning, both physically and mentally. And it doesn’t look like these savvy silver foxes are going to simply wait for the deteriorating effects of aging. When the forerunners of this generation first entered their 50s in the early 1990s, the nutritional supplement industry began to see a noticeable spike in product sales. That’s a healthy start—as long as they’re guided in the right direction. Eating fish or supplementing with fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids to protect against disease isn’t news. In fact, many leading health organizations now recommend it as standard protocol, particularly for cardiovascular health. But with environmental and overfishing issues on the rise, it’s important to know that there is an alternative DHA source that’s both concentrated and sustainable: calamari, or squid oil.

Healthy Aging with Omega-3s

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3s vital for not only initial growth and development but also ongoing support for healthy aging and disease prevention. These essential fatty acids (EFAs) aren’t manufactured in the body, but are prevalent in the body and influence every cell. In many studies, DHA has been shown to work well in its partnership role with EPA in therapeutic applications for inflammatory diseases, depression, and overall health—due in part to balancing the pivotal ratio of omega-3 EFAs to omega-6 EFAs, which the standard American diet typically supplies in abundance.

DHA for Sustaining Health

Due to DHA’s more prominent role in initial “structure” support—particularly in the eye, brain, and nervous system—EPA was often regarded as more important for “function” support. Until recently, that is. DHA-specific research demonstrates that it may be more useful than EPA for therapeutic applications in treating or preventing conditions in three key areas of particular concern to an aging population:

1. Cardiovascular Health. The American Heart Association currently recommends a healthy daily intake of DHA and EPA for everyone—with or without diagnosed heart disease. But DHA may be even more heart smart when used alone or in a more concentrated ratio, according to an emerging school of thought and a growing body of research. Specifically, DHA has been shown to be more effective than EPA in improving circulation and HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure, heart rate, platelet aggregation (clotting), blood vessel constriction, and triglycerides.

2. Eye Health. The retina is comprised of 30 to 60 percent DHA, which is a major component of the photo receptors in the macula necessary for functional vision, as well as the rods and cones that aid in color. Age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa (also influenced by heredity—it causes tunnel vision and night or total blindness) are associated with lower levels of DHA. Diets rich in omega-3s and DHA supplementation have been shown with varying rates of success to reverse, slow progression, prevent, or delay the onset of these disorders.

3. Brain Health. Estimates suggest that DHA makes up a large portion of the lipids contained in healthy brain tissue and is particularly concentrated in the area related
to complex thinking. Low DHA levels or DHA-poor diets have been associated with age-related cognitive and memory decline, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Adequate DHA levels and DHA supplementation appear to protect against functional disabilities associated with these neurological conditions associated with aging.

A Sustainable DHA Source

As more of us turn to natural ways to stay healthy as we get older, there are increasing concerns that our oceans are becoming overharvested to meet the food and supplement demands of a growing population. Responsible supplement ingredient manufacturers as well as health-conscious customers are increasingly looking to support sustainable practices that won’t detrimentally impact the needs of future generations. An exciting new source of DHA leaves a lighter planetary “footprint” by using only the byproducts of calamari for food production that would normally go to waste. This source is calamari oil. Made from highly sustainable species of calamari, this oil is naturally rich in DHA. These species of calamari are caught and harvested for food, and are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Commercially harvested calamari species have a shorter lifespan and reproduce quickly and abundantly. When being harvested, only the mature are used, not the young. In addition, calamari naturally contains a higher ratio of DHA, which makes it an ideal source for concentrated DHA. This means even less food waste from calamari is required for targeted heath support, which helps keep the oceans healthy, too.

 
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