What is DHA and what is it good for? DHA, or Docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid, naturally found in fatty fish and marine algae. Omega-3s are identified as essential because they serve as an important building block that our bodies cannot make themselves. This means they must be consumed through diet or supplements.
DHA has long been identified as a key component for good health, and is recognized for its importance in supporting cognitive health as well as the development of the brain and eyes in infants and children.* During the first few years of life and in adolescence, a child’s brain and cognitive function undergoes significant growth and development. Adequate DHA intake supports healthy brain and eye development during these critical stages.*
Consider these scientific opinions on the importance of DHA:
NIH (National Institutes of Health): DHA is important for cognitive development and plays important roles in the functioning of both the brain and the eyes.1
IOM (Institute of Medicine): Children up to 12 years of age may benefit from consuming seafood, especially those with higher concentrations of EPA and DHA.2
GOED (Global Organization of EPA & DHA): The brain is in constant need for omega-3's throughout life, with DHA being the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in the brain.3
Omega-3's in the body
DHA is an essential component of cellular membrane phospholipids in the brain. 4*
DHA provides energy for the body and is used to form eicosanoids (signaling molecules).4*
DHA is found in abundance in the retina, supporting visual function.4*
With DHA playing an important role in the structure of our cell membranes in our bodies, research suggests that DHA may also be associated with other functions and benefits.* More evidence is needed to say definitively what role DHA plays throughout the body and what other benefits are. As scientific research and our technology continues to develop, we are eager to learn more of the important role DHA plays in the functioning and development of the body!
Why take a DHA supplement?
DHA supplements are a nutrient available to those who do not get enough DHA omega-3 fatty acids through their daily diet. Naturally found in cold-water fatty fish, there are very few foods that have DHA, making it difficult to reach an appropriate intake through diet alone.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 8-12 ounce-equivalents (2-3 servings) of seafood per week.5 It is believed this consumption is essential to receive the total package of nutrients that seafood provides. However, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture found the average intakes of seafood are low for all age and gender groups!6 With less than 10% of the population meeting recommendations, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee once again highlights the need to meet intake recommendations.6
Why DHA for
infants and children?
Seafood received particular attention in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines due to evidence of health benefits, specifically for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, infants and young children. However, the level of DHA passed onto the baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding is dependent on the mother’s diet and the amount of fish consumed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with other recognized health organizations, recommend nursing women should consume an average daily intake of 200 to 300mg of DHA (8-12 ounces of fish high in DHA / week) to guarantee a sufficient concentration of DHA in the milk.7 Yet, on average, women are receiving less than half of the omega-3s they need daily!8
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends children should be eating 1 to 2 servings of fish a week, to support healthy growth and development.9 However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service found many children are not meeting this recommendation.5
Although the nutritional benefits of omega-3s have been recognized for healthy infant and child growth and development,* the FDA and Dietary Guidelines recommend pregnant women, breastfeeding women and small children should avoid predatory fish, making it even more difficult to reach the daily recommendations.9,5
ThinkmistTM is a great option for those who are concerned that their child is not receiving an adequate intake of DHA from breastmilk and diet alone.
Remember: Your healthcare practitioner would be the best person to speak with regarding your specific needs around DHA supplementation.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.