We are all familiar with DHA. People always say don’t forget to take more DHA to the pregnant woman and baby.
Most of us believe taking a DHA supplement can make a baby smarter.
Even DHA is not the only ingredients for baby’s brain development, China’s authoritative journal of pediatrics – “Clinical Pediatrics” has listed eight major nutrients necessary for children’s brain development, namely protein, taurine, fatty acid, iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, and B vitamins.
Protein, iron, iodine, selenium, and B vitamins are relatively easy to obtain in our diet. Taurine, fatty acids, and zinc are relatively ingested relatively. (Of course, our body needs more unsaturated fatty acids, including DHA, ARA, etc.).
What is DHA?
Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA, popular known as Brian Gold, is one of the most essential members in Omega-3 fatty acid family.
Like other Omega-3 members, DHA plays vital roles in our body. Mostly works on Nervous system cells growth and maintenance.
DHA is an important component in your brain and retina. Up to 20% in the human cerebral cortex, and the largest compound in the retina of the eye, around 50%.
So DHA is pretty essential in Infant Intelligence and Vision development.
Omega 3 family
Omega 3 fatty acid is a class of unsaturated fatty acids. A type of fatty acid.
The three most crucial member are ALA(α-Linolenic acid), EPA( Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid).
ALA DHA conversion pathway
Your body can’t synthesize omega-3 fatty acids from the beginning, but it is possible to use α-linolenic acid (ALA) as raw material, and extend the carbon chain by enzymes in the body to synthesize unsaturated carbon dioxide of twenty carbons Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA).
Then EPA synthesizes twenty-two carbon unsaturated ω-3 fatty acids, which is DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid).
DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid) sources
The DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid) on the market are mainly divided into Fish oil Resource DHA and Algal oil resource DHA.
Fish oil DHA is mostly from deep-sea fish with a long history.
Algal oil DHA is mainly derived from marine microalgae. In recent years, the scale of the algal oil DHA market has shown a rapid growth trend.
Fish oil Resource DHA Vs Algal oil Resource DHA
|Item||Fish oil Resource DHA||Algal oil Resource DHA|
|Appearance||Light Yellow to Yellow liquid||Light Yellow transparent liquid|
|Odor||Fishy smell||Seaweed smell|
|EPA||Yes (DHA: EPA: 4~5:1)||Virtually No(DHA:EPA=20:1)|
|Manufacture process||100% Fermented|
|Suitable for Vegan||No||Yes|
|Suitable for Adult||Yes||Yes|
|Suitable for Old||Yes||Yes|
|Suitable for pregnant women||No||Yes|
|Suitable for Children||No||Yes|
|Other dangerous||May have no cholesterol and heavy metal element pollution such as Dioxin, PCBs, Hg, Pb||No|
EPA in fish oil is harmful to pregnant women and children, which can lead to prolonged bleeding time, suppression of immune response, and sexual precocity in children.
One piece Fish oil softgel contains EPA 180mg, and the daily intake of EPA in underage children should be less than 4mg.
– From “Functional Foods”
This proves fish oil resource DHA is not safe for pregnant women and children since it contains EPA.
Generally speaking, Algal oil Resource DHA has the advantages of stable fatty acid composition, no cholesterol, no fishy smell, and no heavy metal element pollution.
Is there any food resource DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid)?
It is mainly found in Seafood like fish(Salmon and anchovies), fish oil and shellfish, also some Algae product.
Eggs also contain small amount DHA, and the new marketed DHA enriched egg contains around 57mg DHA per egg.
Some fish oil like cod liver oil can provide 1g DHA per 15ml.
If you don’t eat seafood regularly, please take DHA supplement since DHA is essential for your skin, brain, and eyes.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) rich oil was approved GRAS Ingredients as a food ingredient for General food applications.
EU Novel food
The use of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) rich algal oil from Schizochytrium has been authorized for use as a novel food ingredient in a range of foodstuffs by the United Kingdom in accordance with Article 4(2) of Regulation (EC) No 258/97.
New Resource food
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from Algal oil was approved as a new resource food ingredient.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Study
Animal and in vitro studies provide some promising results on the role played by DHA in the prevention of age-related cognitive decline. DHA may help prevent the formation of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles and may also help maintain brain glucose uptake during aging.
One study shows women who are feeding their babies, can produce milk contains more DHA after taking DHA supplement(around 20% of the intake DHA content).
Why we should take Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplement
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can promote visual and intellectual development of infants and young children and has positive health care functions for maintaining brain function, delaying brain aging, preventing Alzheimer’s disease and neurological diseases, and preventing cardiovascular diseases.
The lack of DHA in the human body can cause a series of symptoms such as growth retardation, infertility, and mental retardation.
DHA and ARA form a balanced regulation mechanism of physiological functions, which together have a regulating effect on physiological activities such as lipid metabolism, glucose metabolism, coagulation mechanism, muscle growth, sleep, and immune response.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) dosage
The recommended dosage for healthy adults is 250-500mg combined EPA and DHA per day, and the average DHA intake is around 100mg/day.
Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers are suggested to take at least 200 mg DHA per day.
The suggested dosage for Mild memory complaints and cognitive impairments people are 500–1,700 mg/day DHA for brain function improvement.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Benefits
Benefits for Infants and Pregnant Women
- Promote brain development and improve cognitive ability
- Promote physical development and ensures your body health
- Enhance vision development and reduce visual defects
- Protect premature babies and improve their health
- Improve children brain development and strengthen their childhood happiness index
- Support immune system development and improve respiratory system health
- Regulate emotion and ease postpartum depression
Benefit for Adults
- Regulate the body’s immunity and improve the body’s anti-inflammatory properties
- Adjuvant cancer treatment and reduce the side effects caused by radiotherapy and chemotherapy
- Regulates lipid metabolism, glucose metabolism and promotes cardiovascular health
- Regulates emotions and improve sleep quality
- Maintain adult and cognitive performance by delaying the vision regression and mental decline of old people
Benefits for animals
- Increase the DHA content in meat products, egg products, and dairy product through the DHA absorb by the livestock
- Promote the livestock health and reduces the mortality rate of embryos
- Improve visual acuity and Pet’s learning ability
- Accelerate the injury recovery for sports animals
- Improve the quality of the aquatic product and increase DHA content in aquatic products
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Side Effect
Long chain omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA are well-tolerated by our body, generally recognized as safe if the dosage is below 3g/day.
While does more than 3g/day may cause harm.
Omega 3 families have been studied extensively by the western world and belong to one of the popular consumed nutrition ingredients.
The most likely Omega 3 side effect is gastrointestinal disturbances.