What is DHA, and why does it matter?
Erin Stokes, ND | March 2022
Have you heard of the omega 3 fatty acid, DHA? (aka Docosahexaenoic Acid)? Are you wondering how to get DHA in your diet, and if you’re getting enough? Read on for answers.
DHA doesn’t stand alone as an omega 3. There are actually three main omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). That might all sound like a mouthful, but omega-3 fatty acids don’t have to be complicated!
Below we break down the Why, What and How of omega-3s with a special focus on DHA:
Why do Omega-3s matter?
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fats. This means that our bodies cannot manufacture them, so we either need to get these fats from food or supplements. Omega-3s are an important structural component of cell membranes, and even impact the cell receptor function throughout our body! (Harvard School of Public Health) This makes them especially crucial to try to get in our diet. DHA is particularly high in retina (eye) and brain cells, and is important for fetal brain and eye development.*
What do I need to eat to get Omega-3s in my diet?
ALA is the omega 3 that’s found in vegetarian food sources such as flaxseed and chia seeds. It’s fairly prevalent in the American diet, because it is also found in vegetable oils. Here’s the key - for optimal benefit to our bodies, ALA needs to convert to EPA and then DHA, but this conversion is very limited.
This limited conversion of ALA to EPA and then DHA, is why there is so much focus and attention on DHA! The omega 3 DHA is found in seafood, especially in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. It’s also found in shellfish (e.g., crab, mussels, and oysters). Many people are not eating these foods on a regular basis. DHA also occurs in some types of algae.
How can I get more DHA if I’m not eating fish often (or not eating fish at all)?
Food is always first for our nutrient consumption, but DHA can be a real challenge to get in the diet. Fish oil supplements will usually contain DHA. Algae can also be a source of DHA.
DHA: Important for optimal nutritional support during pregnancy*.
A woman’s nutritional health during conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding can have lifelong effects on her child.
Baby & Me 2 Prenatal DHA & Choline provides two essential nutrients to support healthy brain development in the baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This supplement provides a unique pairing in one easy serving (2 vegan-friendly capsules): 250 mg liquid, plant-based DHA from algae with 200 mg of slow-release choline beadlets to deliver nutrients over a sustained period of time. This product is a great companion to Baby & Me 2 Prenatal Multi and Baby & Me 2 Postnatal Multi to give your baby a healthy start.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.