DHA and the Developing Brain
Thus, protein is hardly the engine that drove the dramatic encephalization of the human brain over the course of the Plio-Pleistocene. A number of nutritionists, recognizing this fact, have focused instead on an omega-3 fatty acid (often written 22:6n-3 or 22:6ω-3) known as DHA (an abbreviation for docosahexaenoic acid), a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LC-PUFA) that forms a critical component of the central nervous system (Al et al. 2000; Arterburn et al. 2006; Bakewell et al. 2006; Bourre 2006; Brenna 2002; Brenna et al. 2007; Broadhurst et al. 2002; Burdge 2006; Burdge and Calder 2005; Burdge and Wootton 2002; Burdge et al. 2006; Carlson and Kingston 2007a, b; Carnielli et al. 2007; Childs et al. 2008; Clandinin 1999; Cordain et al. 2001; Crawford et al. 1993, 1999, 2001; Cunnane and Crawford 2003; Cunnane et al. 2007; Goyens et al. 2006; Green and Yavin 1993, 1996, 1998; Haggarty 2002, 2004; Herrera et al. 2006; Hibbeln et al. 2006; Innis 2000a, b, 2005, 2007a, b; Jensen et al. 2000; Langdon 2006; Lefkowitz et al. 2005; Muskiet et al. 2004, 2006; Peng et al. 2007; Rioux et al. 2008; Robson 2004; Rosell et al. 2005; Sauenvald et al. 2000; Simopoulos 2001; Singh 2005; Su et al. 2000; Williams and Burdge 2006). The essence of the “DHA model” is that humans are very inefficient at biosynthesizing DHA de novo from its precursor, a-linolenic acid, in quantities sufficient to supply the needs of the developing fetus and newborn infant. Instead, the mother must obtain preformed DHA through the foods in her diet.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.