Normal doses of docosahexaenoic acid are probably safe for most people, although high doses can cause problems. Some people may be more likely to experience problems with it than others. Therefore, you should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking this product if you have:
- High blood pressure
- A bleeding disorder
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods (especially fish), dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see DHA and Pregnancy)
- Breastfeeding (see DHA and Breastfeeding).
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Docosahexaenoic Acid Safety for more information, including any available warnings and precautions.)
Docosahexaenoic acid is an essential fatty acid, which means that humans must obtain it from the diet. It is thought to work in a variety of different ways, such as:
- Inflammation: Docosahexaenoic acid seems to decrease inflammation in the body by suppressing a specific enzyme (COX-2) and inflammatory chemicals such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
- Triglycerides: Docosahexaenoic acid lowers triglyceride levels through several different mechanisms.
- Blood clotting: Docosahexaenoic acid decreases blood viscosity (in common terms, it "thins" the blood) and has effects on red blood cells that may decrease the risk of blood clots.
- Fetal and infant development: Docosahexaenoic acid is important for the development of the brain and neurons.
These are just a few of the ways that researchers think this product may work for a variety of conditions. As more studies are done, more information about how it works will become available.