by Rachel Gow
26th and 27th May 2010
Forty years ago, experimental evidence began to appear showing a special role for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as a brain selective nutrient. Over the intervening years the discovery that the brain and eye are rich in DHA, that DHA accumulates at a striking rate in utero and through childhood, and the now well-known concept that low DHA status results in suboptimal eye and brain development have emerged to establish DHA as a pivotal nutrient for optimal neural function.
We raised the question - How did modern humans come to rely on a dietary source of DHA? We further suggested that DHA has been a prominent component of the visual and nervous systems since the Cambrian explosion of oxidative metabolism and animal evolution 600 million years ago. Session one on DHA and human evolution explored the concept that the food fatty acid quality, not sheer quantity of calories and protein, facilitated the runaway expansion of the human brain. The key to cerebral expansion was the use of the aquatic food system reflecting the fact that the brain evolved in the sea 500-600 million years ago using DHA.
Read more: A Celebration of DHA: Report