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DHA IN CHILDREN
DHA IN CHILDREN
Body Stores of DHA
Effects of DHA
TOP DHA IN CHILDREN ARTICLES
DHA and Diet
DHA and Infections
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Dietary Recommendations
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Other Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs)
Health Effects of Dietary Unsaturated Fatty Acids
DHA and Behaviour of Child
Unproven Benefits of DHA other than Brain and Eye
DHA and Adults
DHA IN CHILDREN AND CHRONIC DISEASES
Action of DHA
DHA and Cardiovascular effects
DHA and Mental health
DHA in Chronic Pediatric Disorders and other effects of DHA
DHA IN CHILDREN FAQ'S
About DHA Supplementation
About vegetarian sources of DHA
About Upper Limit of DHA intake
Does cooking decrease the DHA content of food
About to give infant formula fortified with DHA
About Omega Fatty Acids
About Why are Children Lacking DHA
About DHA and Eye
About DHA and child’s brain
About Foods with high DHA content
DHA News and Highlights
Essential fats: how do they affect growth and development of infants and young children in developing countries? A literature review
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON DHA
FAQ'S - ABOUT WHY ARE CHILDREN LACKING DHA
WHAT IS DHA?
is an omega-3 long chain fatty acid, the primary structural fatty acid of the brain and retina of the eye. DHA is essential for brain and eye function.
DHA has been well researched and is very critical for the development of the fetus as well as the first couple years of a child’s life (and throughout adulthood!). The body, especially the brain, is growing rapidly during this time and this nutrient is essential.
How Does DHA Work in the Body?
Sixty percent of the brain is fat, and DHA is the most abundant fat in both the brain and retina of the eye. Cells in the brain, retina, and other parts of the nervous system have connecting arms on their membranes that transport electrical currents between cells, sending messages to the body.
DHA assures the optimal flexibility of nerve cell membranes essential for the transmission of these signals. Low levels of DHA have been correlated with changes in disposition, memory loss, visual and other neurological conditions.
Where do children obtain DHA from?
Humans obtain DHA from their diets, initially from mother when in the womb, then from breast milk, and later through dietary sources, such as fish, red meats, animal organ meats and eggs. Popular fish like tuna, salmon and sardines are rich sources. DHA is also a normal component of breast milk, and infants fed breast milk score higher on intellectual and visual measurements than those fed baby formulas lacking DHA. Maternal supplementation with DHA during
, and lactation has been demonstrated to augment children's IQ.
The intake of long-chain n-3 fatty acid DHA in the overall population, as well as in children and adolescents, is often inadequate. In the eating habits prevalent in western industrial countries, food tends to be rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA), and low in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA. Although fish oils are rich sources of DHA, most commercially available fish oils contain higher amount of EPA than DHA. Most DHA found in extracted fish oil preparation is derived from microalgae consumed by the fish. Pure DHA from fish oil is not readily available in the commercial market due to difficulties in extraction and purification processes. Currently, the best commercial source of DHA is derived from microalgae by fermentation which is the vegetarian source of DHA. (2) This vegetarian source of commercial microalgae DHA may have to be supplemented in children to achieve adequate DHA content.
Which are essential fatty acids in pregnancy?
for motherhood begins before
, providing a head start for both the mother and baby. This is especially true for nutrients, such as
essential fatty acids,
polyunsaturated fatty acids,
) and Docosahexaenoic acid (
), are building blocks of brain cells and other tissues. DHA is concentrated in the retina of the eye and important for visual function. DHA facilitates communication between brain cells, a critical brain function. The developing fetus depends on the mother's nutrition to obtain these fatty acids. The mother's supply comes from the foods she eats and her own tissues. AA and DHA are vital to the mother's health to support growth of the placenta and developing fetus, maintain her own tissues, and make substances, such as
which are important in childbirth. The greatest accumulation of these fatty acids occurs in the last trimester.
AA and DHA for the Fetus :
The mother has two ways of providing AA and DHA for the fetus. One is to make them from precursor fatty acids and the other is to consume them in foods. The body makes AA from linoleic acid. Meats and fish have some AA too.
Obtaining DHA from its Precursor :
The second source of DHA is conversion of the precursor,
to EPA and DHA. However, unlike the formation of AA, these conversions are highly inefficient with 5% or less being converted to EPA and less to DHA. For this reason, relying solely on alpha-linolenic acid to supply DHA may not provide the amounts needed by the brain during
. The best food sources of alpha-linolenic acid are flaxseed, canola oil, English walnuts, and soybean oil. The developing fetus greatly prefers preformed AA and DHA over their precursors. AA and DHA are avidly taken up by the placenta from the mother's circulation and passed on to the fetus.
How important is breast feeding?
is the only source of nutritional supplementation in a newborn and has marked advantages over formula feeds. Most of the formulae feeds are deficient in long chain fatty acids (DHA is most important of them) and play a pivotal role in growth, development and functioning of human brain as the maximum potential of brain growth is during the first 24 months of life.
How does maternal nutrition affect infant development?
Adequate dietary intake of DHA is particularly important for pregnant and nursing women. Significant brain and eye development occurs in utero and continues during the first year after birth.
Infants rely on their mothers to supply DHA for the developing brain and eyes initially through the placenta and then through breast milk. DHA is the most abundant omega-3, long chain fatty acid in breast milk, and studies show that breast-fed babies have IQ advantages over babies fed formula without DHA.
Women need sufficient stores of DHA for the proper nourishment of their babies during pregnancy and while feeding. Evidence points to the need for them to build up their stores ahead of the actual need. Infants of mothers who consumed DHA regularly during pregnancy have higher levels of DHA than infants of mothers consuming little DHA. These infants also have more DHA in their body fat, which provides insurance against a possible low intake after birth. Starting life with higher DHA is an advantage for the young infant whose brain grows for at least the next two years.
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