Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. ...Hippocrates
Some studies strongly show that fatty acid deficiency disrupts neurogenesis (the development of nervous tissue) in the embryonic brain. Deficiency at key stages of brain development can have lasting effects on neural function, regardless of later compensation with an adequate diet. In this regard, recent studies have provided evidence that maternal intakes of DHA during pregnancy are associated with higher scores on tests of cognition in infants and preschool. Similarly, it is suggested that there could be an association between in utero DHA deprivation and several neurologic birth defects. A study with embryonic rat brain showed altered neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, which is one of two regions that where growth of new neurons occurs throughout adult life. The rate of neurogenesis has been linked to aging-related cognitive decline in hippocampal-dependent learning tasks, such as spatial memory tasks. In addition, DHA deficiency has also been linked to aging-related cognitive decline.
The levels of n-3 fatty acids in brain and other organs also influence the biosynthesis and accumulation of phosphatidylserine (PS) in brain. Dietary depletion of n-3 fatty acids during prenatal and postnatal development decreases the brain n-3 content by more than 80 percent with an increase in 6-n fatty acids in all tissues. Under these conditions, an approximately 30-35 percent reduction in total phosphatidylserine in rat brain cortex, brain mitochondria, and olfactory bulb was observed, while phosphatidylserine levels in liver and adrenal were unchanged. These data have implications in neuronal signaling events where phosphatidylserine is believed to play an important role.
Dyspraxia, also referred to as developmental coordination disorder, is the inability to make controlled movements and gestures due to impairment in motor coordination. Scientific evidence indicates that dyspraxia is often associated with fatty acid deficiency. The movement disorders of elderly people have been linked to highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) deficiencies in a population based study. This is also true for movement abnormalities in Huntington’s disease and those that can result from antipsychotic drug treatment in schizophrenia. Studies show that treatment with fatty acids may be beneficial in both these conditions. Recent research shows that DHA, a key omega-3 fatty acid, is concentrated in brain regions involved in motor control.
Deficiencies of highly unsaturated fatty acids could give rise to developmental difficulties in visual processing that are characteristic in dyspraxia. Omega-3 fatty acids play vital role in proper functioning of visual processing. DHA makes up 30-50 percent of the retina. When DHA is deficient in diet and is replaced by omega-6 fatty acids, the signal transduction in the retina – the very first stage of visual information processing, drops. There is a growing evidence that indicates the role of omega-3 fatty acids for other aspects of visual development and function.