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Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid critical for brain development and function in animals, including swine and poultry. It is a major component of the neuronal membrane in the brain (cf nutricle - our ancestors knew it better).

DHA is a highly unsaturated fatty acid containing multiple double bonds. This makes it more flexible and fluid than other fatty acids, such as saturated or monounsaturated fatty acids. This flexibility and fluidity of the neuronal membrane are important for the proper function of neurotransmitter receptors and ion channels, which play a key role in neuronal signaling.

DHA has been shown to affect the release of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, which play important roles in mood regulation, behavior, and cognition.

DHA may affect the transport of ions across the neuronal membrane, including calcium and potassium. This is important for proper neuronal signaling and communication.

DHA is important for the myelination of nerve fibers in the brain. Myelin is a fatty substance that covers and insulates nerve fibers, allowing for faster and more efficient transmission of neural signals. This is important for normal brain development and function, particularly in regions of the brain that are involved in motor function and coordination.

DHA is found naturally in fish and seafood and is commonly included in supplements and enriched foods. However, the effectiveness of DHA supplementation in improving brain health and function depends on how effectively it can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain tissue.

The blood-brain barrier is a protective membrane that separates the blood vessels in the brain from the surrounding tissue. It plays a critical role in preventing harmful substances, pathogens, and toxins from entering the brain tissue and causing damage. However, it also limits the access of essential nutrients and molecules, such as DHA, to the brain tissue.

To improve the bioavailability and effectiveness of DHA supplementation for brain health, researchers have been exploring different ways to enhance its penetration through the blood-brain barrier. One promising approach involves associating DHA with phospholipids, a type of lipid molecule that is a major component of cell membranes and is also present in the blood-brain barrier.

Phospholipids contain a phosphate group, which gives them a hydrophilic (water-loving) head and a hydrophobic (water-fearing) tail. DHA can be incorporated into the hydrophobic tail region of phospholipids, which allows for its effective transport and delivery to cells in the body

Studies have shown that when DHA is associated with phospholipids, it has a greater chance of penetrating the blood-brain barrier and entering the brain tissue than when it is associated with triglycerides, another type of lipid molecule. This is because phospholipids are more similar in structure and function to the lipids present in the blood-brain barrier, which makes them more likely to be recognized and transported across the barrier.

Furthermore, once inside the brain tissue, DHA associated with phospholipids is more likely to be incorporated into the cell membranes and other structures that require DHA for proper function. This is because phospholipids are the main building blocks of cell membranes and are essential for maintaining their structure and function.

A study done in 2017 by Dhavamani and his team on the different forms of dietary DHA and their capacity to enrich the brain in DHA confirmed that oral administration of DHA associated with phospholipids (40 mg DHA / kg) on adult mice for 30 days doubled the level of DHA in the brain. But, the same quantity of free DHA did not increase the level of DHA in the brain but leads to its accumulation in adipose tissues and the heart.

When DHA is free or associated with triglycerides, it is more likely to be transported to other tissues in the body and used for energy or stored as fat. This reduces its bioavailability for brain health and function.

DHA can be found naturally bound to triglycerides in the oils of certain fish species, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna. On the opposite, the proportion of PhosphoDHA is much higher in enriched eggs and poultry and swine-enriched meat.

Therefore, if your company is marketing some DHA-enriched eggs or meat and you are competing with fish oil capsule supplements, your marketing team should communicate the higher brain bioavailability of phosphoDHA coming from enriched eggs and meat. There is a major opportunity for you to gain market share and grow your volume. If you need more data about that topic, do not hesitate to come back to me.


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