Performance Lab® Omega-3

DHA

David Tomen
Author:
David Tomen
12 minute read
DHA is an essential brain food that boosts neurotransmission, cognition, memory, learning, reduces brain inflammation, assists in the repair of and helps grow new brain cells.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is crucial for the healthy structure and function of your brain at all ages.

DHA impacts your brain’s signaling systems, neurotransmitters, memory, learning, focus and attention. It helps reduce and even repair cognitive decline.

The best algae-sourced DHA on the market today is Performance Lab® Omega-3 which contains 600 mg of DHA and 300 mg of EPA per dose.

The famous Framingham Heart Study followed-up with 899 men and women who were free of dementia. Subjects had a median age of 76 years. And were followed for 9.1 years for the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Results from the study showed 99 new cases of dementia including 71 of Alzheimer’s. The researchers concluded that those with the highest levels of DHA were “associated with a significant 47% reduction in the risk of developing all-cause dementia”.[i]

DHA helps:

  • BDNF. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is your brain’s growth hormone. DHA has the ability to turn on your brain’s BDNF.
  • Neuroplasticity. DHA helps your brain build new neural pathways. Critical for maintaining a healthy brain. And optimizing neural signaling and cognition.
  • Neuroprotection. DHA acts as an anti-inflammatory by reducing the enzyme COX-2. Inflammation is a key factor in both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. And in every other neurodegenerative disease.

Overview

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid. Your brain is made up of 60% fat. And much of that fat is DHA.

DHA
DHA

Your body does not make DHA on its own. So you must get it from food or a supplement. And if you are a vegan, you are at serious risk of a life-threatening DHA deficiency.

Foods that are rich in DHA include fish, fish oil, Krill and other crustaceans, and algae.

But fish do not make DHA. Fish and other marine predators get it from smaller fish and crustaceans that feed on algae. It’s algae that has the enzymes to produce DHA that we need to remain healthy.

The best algae-sourced DHA on the market today is Performance Lab® Omega-3 which contains 600 mg of DHA and 300 mg of EPA per dose.

DHA from eggs and some dairy products only supply about 20 mg of DHA per day.

DHA is essential for maintaining brain health, memory and learning functions. DHA reduces brain inflammation, stimulates new nerve cell growth, and assists in brain cell repair.

DHA is critical for brain health

How does DHA Work in the Brain?

Your brain is composed of 60% fat. 15 – 20% of your cerebral cortex is DHA. Even the retina in your eyes is 30 – 60% DHA. Making DHA the most essential nutrient for eye and brain health.

The highest levels of DHA are found in phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE).[ii] Lower levels are found in phosphatidylcholine (PC).

PS makes up about 70% of neuron tissue mass. It helps in the storage, release and activity of neurotransmitters and receptors.

PC also makes up part of the neuron tissue mass. And helps in maintaining cell structure, fat metabolism, neuron signaling and the activation of a number of enzymes.

And PE is part of neuron cell membranes. PE is involved in cellular signaling.

PS, PE and PC are called phospholipids. Together they alter the fluidity of cell membranes. Changing the fluidity of cell membranes alters their permeability and protein activity. And influences cellular signaling.

Made up largely of DHA, these cellular membranes regulate entry into the cell, and control neuroreceptor function. Which facilitates cellular communication between, and within cells.

DHA also reduces inflammation by regulating proteins and enzymes within cells. And boosts the production of anti-inflammatory compounds that protect cells.

DHA maintains the activity of certain enzymes that control electrical signaling between cells. And it regulates the brain cell concentration of PS which is vital for cell survival.

And DHA regulates calcium oscillations, which are involved in neurotransmitter release, mitochondrial function, gene activation, oxidative stress and brain cell development and growth (BDNF).

DHA vs. EPA: What’s the Difference?

Most medical authorities and scientists agree that Omega-3 oils are important for good health. Omega-3s boost brain function, decrease inflammation, reduce the incidence of fatal heart attacks and strokes, help autoimmune diseases and improve vision.

Omega-3 from fishWe have general agreement about the health benefits of Omega-3 oils. But few appreciate the difference between DHA (docosahexaeonic acid) and EPA (eico-sapentaenoic acid).

The ratio of DHA and EPA varies a lot in commercial Omega-3 supplements. Most have higher concentrations of EPA to DHA. Mainly because it’s cheaper to manufacture, and has less of a fishy odor.

But studies show that most of the brain health benefits of Omega-3’s are derived from DHA rather than EPA.

One study in Chicago followed 815 residents from 1993 – 2000. Study subjects were between 65 and 94 years. 131 study participants developed Alzheimer’s Disease. Those who ate fish at least once a week had a 60% less risk of Alzheimer’s compared to those who didn’t eat fish.

Researchers found that it was the intake of DHA rather than EPA that reduced the risk factor in getting Alzheimer’s. EPA made no difference whatsoever.[iii]

How Things Go Bad

From reviewing the “How does DHA Work in the Brain” section of this article, you can imagine that when things go bad with DHA – they go really bad.

Fish and marine oil supplements like krill oil are a source of DHA and EPA because they get it from algae. Plants contain another Omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Technically ALA can be converted to DHA and EPA. But most modern humans lack the ability to convert plant sources of Omega-3s into all the DHA our brain needs.

When we don’t get enough DHA, we experience:

↓ Problems with attention, learning and memory

↑ Depression, anxiety, aggression, anger, suicide risk

↑ Bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease and Schizophrenia

Not having adequate levels of DHA in the brain cause things to break down. If the inadequate intake of DHA goes on for a while, disease starts to set in. Including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.

DHA benefits

DHA makes up much of the gray matter in your brain. It’s an integral part of cell membranes and their function.

Your brain is 60% fat. And a large part of that is DHA.

The good news is; degenerative conditions can not only be prevented by adding DHA to your nootropic stack. It can also be reversed.

DHA for a healthy brain

In one study, researchers worked with 485 elderly subjects with memory problems. They saw significant improvement with those taking 900 mg of DHA per day for 24 weeks compared to the control group.[iv]

In another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, scientists worked with 49 women aged 60 – 80 years. One group received 800 mg per day of DHA for 4 months.

Researchers found those using DHA had a significant improvement in verbal fluency scores. And an improvement in memory and learning.[v]

How does DHA feel?

Chances are when you start using DHA you won’t feel it. There’s no profound stimulant feeling.

But if you suffer from chronic depression, within a few weeks you should feel the depression lift.

After supplementing with DHA for a while your cognition will be better. You’ll think clearer and quicker. Your memory and ability to learn will improve. And you’ll likely have more energy and motivation.

But it is very likely you won’t think to attribute these improvements to adding DHA to your stack. Something else will get the credit.

DHA Clinical Research

DHA is crucial for an optimally functioning brain. The goal of every neurohacker. DHA impacts your brain’s structure, signaling systems, neurotransmitters, memory, learning, focus and attention.

We have decades of clinical research verifying the importance of DHA in your nootropic stack. And several books have been written on the subject in the last couple of years. Here’s just a snippet of what’s available…

DHA Reduces Hostility and Anger

In a study with 41 university students in Japan, scientists compared a high-DHA diet (1.5 grams/day) with placebo. This was recorded over 3 months to see the effects on hostile responses.

The researchers found a 27% incidence of hostile answers in the placebo group when nothing extraordinary was going on. And hostile responses rose to 92% during final exams.

There was no increase in hostility among those taking a DHA supplement. These guys even found DHA supplementation significantly reduced hostility among university staff.[vi]

DHA Restores Neurotransmitters & Memory

As your brain ages, there is an increase in membrane rigidity. This causes changes in synapses resulting in a decrease in transmitter release. Long-term potentiation is affected which impairs the development of memories.

Several studies have shown that DHA can support healthy levels of these neurotransmitters. In one study with aged rats, researchers restored neurotransmitter release in the hippocampus. And reversed age-related memory problems.

Adding omega-3 fatty acids to the rat’s feed for 8 weeks raised concentrations of DHA in the rat’s brain. And actually reversed age-related memory impairment.[vii]

DHA Improves Attention & Learning

DHA also has an effect on neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, glutamate and dopamine. Deficiencies in DHA have been shown to lower levels of dopamine. Resulting in problems with attention and learning.[viii]

DHA even plays a role in neurotransmitter receptor function. DHA affects brain cell membrane structures including neuroreceptors.[ix]

Some of these receptors communicate inside cells when stimulated by glutamate, serotonin and acetylcholine.[x] The numbers of these receptors can be increased by you, by adding DHA to your nootropic stack.

So if you are using nootropics that affect things like acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine and serotonin in your brain. It would be wise to add DHA to your nootropic stack. And ensure you get the most bang for your investment in nootropics.

DHA Recommended Dosage

Recommended daily dosage of DHA is 1,000 mg.

Fish oil supplements vary in ratios of DHA to EPA. Salmon naturally contain more DHA than EPA. A supplement from algae may contain only DHA.

Krill oil provides both DHA and EPA. So read the labels. And whatever supplement you get, make sure you end up with at least 1,000 mg of DHA.

And recall that fish and krill do not produce DHA on their own. Marine life get their DHA from algae in the wild.

Most brands of fish oil have been proven safe, and free of mercury. And do not contain unsafe levels of PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls).

To further avoid the contaminants in an unrefined supplement, choose a fish oil or Omega-3 supplement made from small, oily fish like anchovies, sardines or menhaden. And check the labels carefully for purity.

Ideally, get one of a few supplements now available that are pure, refined DHA. With lower or minimal amounts of EPA.

DHA Side Effects

Fish oil capsules commonly have both DHA and EPA. Capsules with EPA are not recommended for infants or small children. Because they upset the balance between DHA and EPA during early development. This also applies to pregnant women.

Fish oil could cause minor side effects like loose stools, upset stomach and belching.

Fish oil may lower blood pressure. So if you already take a medication to lower blood pressure, make sure you talk to your doctor first.

If you’re supplement contains EPA, it could interact with blood thinners and increase bleeding. Same is true for aspirin. But this is not true of DHA. DHA-only supplements do not thin the blood.

Fish oil supplements may lower blood sugar levels. So be careful if you’re on diabetes medications.

Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce some of the side effects of cyclosporine which is used to stop rejection after an organ transplant.

Type of DHA to Buy

Performance Lab® Omega-3 DHA is available as a supplement in two forms:

  • Fish oil or Omega-3 capsules. Which usually have both DHA and EPA. Most Omega-3 supplements contain higher amounts of EPA compared to DHA. But for our purposes, and to support cognitive health, we need an Omega-3 supplement containing higher amounts of DHA to EPA.
  • DHA from fish oil. Some supplement manufacturers now offer capsules containing higher amounts of pure, refined DHA. And reduced amounts of EPA. Our brains require 1,000 mg DHA per day. So look for a DHA supplement that provides 1,000 mg DHA in 2-3 gelcaps.
  • DHA from algae. Which may or may not contain EPA and is vegetarian friendly. Algae is the natural source of these Omega-3s in the wild and where fish and other marine life get their Omega-3s.

For as little as $49/month you can experience better cognition, memory and mood simply by using a daily DHA supplement. My favorite is Performance Lab® Omega-3 which contains 600 mg of DHA and 300 mg of EPA per dose.

Performance Lab® Omega-3 contains life’s™ OMEGA algae oil which supplies natural triglyceride Omega-3s that are 70% more bioavailable than synthetic ethyl esters used in cheaper and lower quality Omega-3 fish oil supplements.

Performance Lab® Omega-3 is delivered in NutriGels which are vegan, carrageenan-free softgels. No fishy smell or aftertaste and easy on your digestive system.

Try a bottle today: Performance Lab® Omega-3

Nootropics Expert Recommendation

DHA (Omega-3) 1,000 mg per day.

Nootropics Expert Tested and ApprovedI recommend using DHA as a nootropic supplement.

Your body does not make DHA on its own. So you must get it from food. Or take it as a supplement.

DHA is one of the most important nootropics you can add to your stack. Your brain is 60% fat. And much of that fat is DHA.

DHA is critical for brain cell repair and regeneration (neurogenesis). And it is an integral part of neural signaling. Both between neurons as well as inside brain cells.

DHA has an effect on critical neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory. And is involved in neuroplasticity.

Hundreds of studies on Omega-3s and DHA show benefits in preventing and even reversing neurodegenerative disease.

It’s best if you find a supplement that contains twice as much DHA than EPA. Such as Performance Lab® Omega-3. And you can safely take 1,000 mg of DHA per day.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] Schaefer E.J. et. Al “ Plasma Phosphatidylcholine Docosahexaenoic Acid Content and Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer Disease” The Framingham Heart Study. Archives of Neurology 2006;63(11):1545-1550. (source)

[ii] Stillwell W., Shaikh S.R., Zerouga M., Siddiqui R., Wassall S.R. “Docosahexaenoic acid affects cell signaling by altering lipid rafts.”Reproduction, Nutrition and Development. 2005 Sep-Oct;45(5):559-79. (source)

[iii] Morris M.C., Evans D.A., Bienias J.L., Tangney C.C., Bennett D.A., Wilson R.S., Aggarwal N., Schneider J. “Consumption of fish and n-3 fatty acids and risk of incident Alzheimer disease.” Archives of Neurology. 2003 Jul;60(7):940-6. (source)

[iv] Yurko-Mauro K., McCarthy D., Rom D., Nelson E.B., Ryan A.S., Blackwell A., Salem N. Jr, Stedman M. “Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline.”Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 2010 Nov;6(6):456-64. (source)

[v] Johnson E.J., McDonald K., Caldarella S.M., Chung H.Y., Troen A.M., Snodderly D.M. “Cognitive findings of an exploratory trial of docosahexaenoic acid and lutein supplementation in older women.”Nutritional Neuroscience. 2008 Apr;11(2):75-83. (source)

[vi] Hamazaki T., Sawazaki S., Itomura M., Nagao Y., Thienprasert A., Nagasawa T., Watanabe S. “The Effect of Docosahexaenoic Acid on Aggression in Young Adults” World Revue of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2001;88:47-52. (source)

[vii] McGahon B.M., Martin D.S., Horrobin D.F., Lynch M.A. “Age-related changes in synaptic function: analysis of the effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids.” Neuroscience. 1999;94(1):305-14. (source)

[viii] Delion S., Chalon S., Guilloteau D., Besnard J.C., Durand G. “alpha-Linolenic acid dietary deficiency alters age-related changes of dopaminergic and serotoninergic neurotransmission in the rat frontal cortex.” Journal of Neurochemistry. 1996 Apr;66(4):1582-91. (source)

[ix] Litman B.J., Niu S.L., Polozova A., Mitchell D.C. “The role of docosahexaenoic acid containing phospholipids in modulating G protein-coupled signaling pathways: visual transduction.” Journal of Molecular Neuroscience 2001 Apr-Jun;16(2-3):237-42 (source)

[x] Mitchell D.C., Niu S.L., Litman B.J. “Enhancement of G protein-coupled signaling by DHA phospholipids” Lipids April 2003, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 437-443 (source)

Subscribe to the Nootropics Expert newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest developments in the nootropics space.

Head First 2nd Editon

The Award Winning Guide to Healing & Optimizing Your Brain with Nootropic Supplements.

Head First 2nd Edition

NEW! Eliminate Brain Fog, Low Energy, Moodiness, Difficulty Sleeping, Memory Loss or Anxiety. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Walmart and more...



Where to Buy Nootropics

Wondering where to buy nootropics? Well, you’re in the right place. Because here you will find the nootropic supplements that I personally use and recommend. Each supplement has a link to the company store and product that I use. I also include a link to my full review for each supplement here on Nootropics Expert® […]

The Definitive Guide to Nootropics

Nootropics can help increase your memory, boost learning ability, improve your mood and assist overall brain function. If you’re new to nootropics, or wonder about the difference between a nootropic and a smart drug, then this page is for you. Here you’ll find the definition of a nootropic, how to pronounce the word “nootropic”, the […]

The Most Comprehensive Nootropics List

This is our big list of the most popular Nootropics in use today. Here you’ll learn what each nootropic is, what it does and suggested dosages. What is this List of Nootropics About? Nootropic supplements are cognitive enhancers aiming to improve brain function. Whether you are looking to treat mild cognitive impairment, improve mental focus, or biohack […]



Free Secrets of the Brain 3rd Edition

Get “Secrets of the Optimized Brain,” 92 nootropics to help you plan your Nootropic Stack when you sign up for my newsletter:

Join The Discussion - 210 comments

Andrew Richardson
April 16, 2024

Hi David i have a question from these two study and want to get free DHA (non-esterified) not sure if its in supplement form tho maybe you know

according to these study its more bio available

id appreciate if you took time to read these link

https://www.alzdiscovery.org/uploads/cognitive_vitality_media/Lysophosphatidylcholine-Omega3_(supplement).pdf

https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1060860/FULLTEXT01.pdf

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26914447/

now it seem the free form can open potassium channel but not this
(not esterified) why this is important is that tinnitus for example is link to potassium

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38284861/

it seem supplement forms are (esterified)

    David Tomen
    April 22, 2024

    Andrew, the purest form of DHA that I know of is used by Performance Lab in their Omega-3. It’s made from a patented form of marine algae which is where these Omega-3 come from. https://bit.ly/3q98chL

    Eric McKinney
    May 21, 2024

    I’m taking a 1g DHA only fish oil liquid from Carlson’s right now. I’ve noticed a marked increase in sex drive since, and I’m on Zoloft so it’s surprising. Is there any reason I should be adding EPA?

      David Tomen
      May 23, 2024

      Eric, DHA helps make EPA when you take DHA as a supplement. So there is not need to also use EPA unless you are treating depression.

Axel
November 28, 2023

hello i have adhd i used concerta for this for years in the past it worked really great for me it changed my life but then i started using ssri for anxiety after about 5-6 weeks the effect of concerta suddenly disappeared i stopped using ssri immediately but after that day concerta never worked for me like before my life is now terrible i can’t do anything ssri has disrupted my neurotransmitters what should i do for this? I have never used omega 3 in my life, can omega 3 fix this situation, can I get my brain back?

    David Tomen
    November 30, 2023

    Axel, many are deficient in Omega-3s and should be supplementing with a high quality Omega-3 supplement daily. The benefits are detailed in the article above. Keep in mind that human adults need about 1,000 mg DHA per day and half that of EPA. So find a good quality DHA supplement instead of fish oil or most regular Omega-3s.

    And please see my article on managing ADHD with or without stimulants (i.e. Concerta) with nootropic supplements here: https://nootropicsexpert.com/best-nootropics-for-adhd-add/

SHARON
November 7, 2023

do fish oils cause too much puffas in the body, like rancid oils . do all fish oils go rancid fast. some say do not take them. sharon

    David Tomen
    November 8, 2023

    Sharon, I have no idea what a “puffas” is but I do not recommend fish oil to start with because I have not found a fish oil supplement yet that contained 1,000 mg DHA in a 2 or 3 capsule dose. Purity is critical and it’s best to get DHA from marine algae or highly purified fish oil. But only from a trusted source.

TC
October 19, 2023

If you’re taking paroxetine, can 1000mg of 100% DHA (no EPA), cause serotonin syndrome? I’ve seen some things online saying DHA can effect serotonin (Not sure in what regard though).

    David Tomen
    October 19, 2023

    TC, that is impossible. DHA is naturally part of your brain cell membranes. It does not create serotonin. It may help transport serotonin better to wherever this neurotransmitter needs to go. But it cannot physically increase serotonin levels.

      TC
      October 20, 2023

      Okay awesome, good to know.

      One more thing to run by you though…
      I’m on 40mg of Paroxetine daily and I’ve recently started taking 350mg of Nutricost brand NALT only in the mornings and just changed my DHA to the higher 1000mg I mentioned earlier. I’ve started taking those things because I’ve been reading a lot of your articles on nootropics for lack of motivation and drive (which I’ve been struggling with).

      Going by what your article on NALT said, you mentioned taking NALT long term would eventually decrease serotonin production, and that you should occasionally supplement with L-Theanine. But since L-Theanine does increase serotonin, is L-Theanine even a safe option for me to take occasionally? And really, is NALT even safe for me since it may be reversing the effects of the paroxetine over time?

      This whole fear of Serotonin Syndrome and how dangerous it can be is really freaking me out. So I’m trying all I can to avoid it.

      Thanks!

        David Tomen
        October 25, 2023

        Paxil is likely killing your motivation and drive and there is not much you can do about it as long as you are using that med. Serotonin Syndrome can be a problem if you try using 5-HTP, St. John’s wort, of Methylene Blue.

        350 mg NALT once a day will not likely deplete your serotonin levels. And L-Theanine does not increase serotonin levels enough for it to be a worry.

Ben
October 19, 2023

Just checked, its 540mg not 580mg of DHA per 3 capsules of performance labs omega 3

    David Tomen
    October 19, 2023

    Ben, just add another GelCap and if you use it daily and long-term you should be getting enough DHA.

Ben
October 19, 2023

Hi,

You recommend to take 1,000 mg of DHA. I have ordered performance labs omega 3.

Do I take double the dose to reach the 1,000 mg dose.

Serving is 3 caps which give 580mg of DHA.

Thanks.

Berkeley
June 3, 2023

The DHA oil inside of these “vegetarian” gelcaps might be good quality, but the gelcap itself contains “starch” – in other words, cornstarch. I don’t believe this is healthy for anyone, gmo or not. For myself – I am allergic and will experience severe lower GI cramping, should I accidentally get a product that contains it. In my experience, the word “starch” must be interpreted to be of corn source because if it were from potato or tapioca, etc., that is generally spelled out in an ingredient list. I was disappointed to see starch listed since I had read in other threads how you disapprove of fillers and binders in general. In this case it’s disguised as the capsule itself, but no less concerning.

    David Tomen
    June 5, 2023

    Berkeley, I agree they should spell it out on their label because the “starch” they are referring to is pullulan made from tapioca. Which is the used to encapsulate all of their supplements.

Justin
April 27, 2023

Hi David, I switched to a slightly cheaper brand of DHA I found on Amazon a few months ago ( trying to fingd out why my focus has gone downhill – I take a good bit of supplements/ Nootropics ) picking them apart and ” testing ” I just want to do you know the brand “deal” I will put a link if it allows me
[Eagleshine Vitamins DHA]

It does not say what kind/ where sourced – are they garbage/ Do I need another brand do you think ? I started to take 3x day AM noon and bed – My focus as been te lowest it’s been in a really long time ! The only major change in what I take has been the brands.

    David Tomen
    May 2, 2023

    Justin, I have found over many years of doing this and I am reminded of it time and time again, quality matters. You get what you pay for. And often that means paying a premium for a high quality, pure supplement.

    If you found your cognition going downhill only after you switched what you were using I think that is all the proof you need. BTW, I’ve never heard of that brand during my 16 years of doing this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.