DHA Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the symptoms of a fatty acid deficiency?
A child who is not eating or drinking foods with adequate amounts of essential fatty acids can develop a fatty acid deficiency. This is one reason why healthcare professionals strongly advise against the use of skim or low fat milks during early childhood. Fats are needed in the diet to support growth and development. Signs of an essential fatty acid deficiency include poor growth, scaly skin lesions, dry brittle nails, dandruff, and lack of hair luster.*
- What are essential and non-essential fatty acids?
There are two basic groupings of fatty acids called (1) essential fatty acids or “precursor fats” (as found in Baby’s Only Organic® Toddler formulas) and (2) non-essential fatty acids which can also be “preformed fats” (as found in Baby’s Only Essentials® DHA and ARA Fatty Acid Supplement*).
Baby’s Only Organic® Toddler formulas contain two essential (precursor) fats: Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) and Linoleic Acid (LA). Alpha-Linolenic and Linoleic fatty acids are called “essential” because the human body cannot make these fats and therefore it is essential to derive them from food sources. Alpha-Linolenic Acid is an omega-3 used by the body to make Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Linoleic Acid is an omega-6 used by the body to make Arachidonic Acid (ARA). DHA and ARA are called “non-essential” fatty acids because infants, children, and adults can manufacture these from Alpha-Linolenic and Linoleic fatty acids.
Baby’s Only Essentials® DHA and ARA Fatty Acid Supplement is made with preformed DHA and ARA long-chain fatty acids. This means the fats are already available in their final forms and the body does not need to manufacture them from the precursor fats, Alpha-Linolenic and Linoleic fatty acids.
The Human Body Converts Essential Fatty Acids into Non-Essential Fatty Acids Omega Source Essential Fatty Acids Non-Essential Fatty Acids Omega-3 Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Omega-6 Linoleic Acid (LA) Arachidonic Acid (ARA)
- Does breast milk contain DHA & ARA?
Breast milk naturally contains DHA and ARA, whereas cow or goat milk does not. The levels of DHA and ARA in breast milk will vary depending upon the mother’s diet. Therefore, pregnant and lactating women may benefit from a DHA supplement if their normal diet is lacking in good sources of omega-3.
Mothers begin providing DHA and ARA for their fetus during pregnancy and continue after the baby’s birth through breast milk. During the second trimester of pregnancy, the fetus begins to utilize DHA more rapidly for the nervous system, brain, and eye retinal development. As these tissues are forming, the demand for DHA increases, depleting a woman’s own body stores of DHA.
Breast fed babies are able to receive DHA and ARA from breast milk. However, the availability of the fatty acids for a baby is dependent upon the lactating mother’s diet. Studies show that in cultures where oily fish consumption is high, breast fed babies have higher levels of circulating DHA. The typical Western diet is deficient in omega-3 fats, which is further complicated by the Environmental Protection Agency and Food & Drug Administration’s warning that childbearing women, pregnant women, lactating women, and young children should limit consumption of certain types of fish due to the high mercury levels. Therefore, it may be ideal to supplement with DHA while pregnant and when providing breast milk. Improving a new mother’s levels of DHA may also provide other health benefits not yet completely understood by nutritional science.
- Should I add a DHA and ARA supplement to Baby’s Only Organic®?
The current medical literature is very conflicting when it comes to the necessity of adding DHA & ARA fatty acids in a formula fed baby’s diet.1 Unfortunately, there is no clear and concise answer. It is for this reason that many healthcare providers will recommend that formula fed babies receive a minimum of these preformed longer chain fatty acids in their diets. Our Baby’s Only Essentials® DHA and ARA can help ensure that the fatty acids are included in a baby’s diet. Baby’s Only Essentials® is derived from egg phospholipid and has been successfully used in clinical studies with infants over the past decade.
Baby's Only Organic® formulas do not contain life'sDHA™ pre-formed DHA and ARA. Here's a bit of information as to why we do not add these ingredients into our product.
Baby’s Only Organic® formulas contain higher levels of Alpha-linolenic (128 milligrams per 100 calories) and Linoleic fatty acids (1000 milligrams per 100 calories) than most leading conventional and organic brands of formula. Based on clinical studies,2 we believe these levels are more appropriate for a baby to convert the essential fatty acids to DHA and ARA.
The organic infant formulas, Similac Organic®, Parent’s Choice Organic®, Earth’s Best®, and Bright Beginnings Organic®, all use life'sDHA™ fatty acids that are treated with hexane solvent, acid, and bleach. Below is a description of the manufacturing process submitted to the FDA:
“The oil is then separated from the dried biomass by hexane extraction and centrifugation and/or filtration, followed by winterization. The hexane phase undergoes additional centrifugation/filtration to remove solids then the winterized oil is heated and treated with acid. Subsequently, the oil is treated with caustic, centrifuged, bleached and deodorized.” 3
Nature’s One® shares some of the same concerns addressed by the FDA when these oils were first submitted for approval. For that reason, the oils have been excluded from the formulation of Baby’s Only Organic® formulas. Baby’s Only Essentials® DHA & ARA is derived from egg phospholipids; a well understood food source -- naturally derived and consumed by humans since the first "chicken or the egg" riddle was posed.
1. Qawasmi A et al. “Meta-analysis of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation of formula and infant cognition,” Pediatrics; originally published online May 28, 2012; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-2127. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/05/23/peds.2011-2127
2. Austed N, et al, “Growth and Development in term infants fed long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids: A double-masked, randomized, parallel, prospective, multivariate study,” Pediatrics, 108; 2:372-381.
3. Sam Zeller, Ph.D. - Martek Biosciences Corporation, Food & Drug Administration Agency Response Letter, GRAS Notice No. GRN 000137
Similac is a registered trademark of Abbott Laboratories. Parent's Choice is a registered trademark of Wal-Mart. Earth's Best is a registered trademark of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. Bright Beginnings is a registered trademark of PBM Nutritionals.
- Why does Baby’s Only DHA & ARA contain egg phospholipids?
Baby’s Only Essentials® DHA & ARA uses egg phospholipids from egg yolk as a natural source of fatty acids. Egg yolk phospholipid is unique in that it is the only DHA and ARA source containing cholesterol, also present in breast milk, which is believed to assist the liver in normal cholesterol production as an infant matures. Egg phospholipid also contains Choline, an important nutrient needed for the production of neurotransmitters and development of the memory center in the brain. Baby’s Only Essentials® DHA & ARA contains a safe and well understood source of these two non-essential fatty acids.*
In 2003, the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition sited a study that concluded egg phospholipids are more bio-available than other sources used in the study. These other sources were fish oil and algal oil. Because it is more easily incorporated into the body, less egg phospholipids had to be consumed in order to achieve the desired effect.
Source: Bakker, EC, Ghys, AJA, Kester, ADM et al. “Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids at birth and cognitive function at 7 y of age,” EJCN. January, 2003(57):89-95
- What's in some leading infant formulas and fish oil?
In 2001, US infant formula manufacturers began adding a novel source of DHA and ARA that is manufactured by Martek Biosciences Corp. This DHA is derived from strains of algae; the ARA is manufactured using a non-toxigenic soil fungus. The following is the manufacturing process described by Martek: “The oil is then separated from the dried biomass by hexane extraction and centrifugation and/or filtration, followed by winterization. The hexane phase undergoes additional centrifugation/filtration to remove solids then the winterized oil is heated and treated with acid. Subsequently, the oil is treated with caustic, centrifuged, bleached and deodorized.” 1
The DHA and ARA in Baby’s Only Essentials® are naturally derived from egg phospholipids (egg yolk) using a gentle aqueous (water) process. Egg phospholipids contain Choline, an important nutrient needed for the production of neurotransmitters and development of the memory center in the brain. Egg phospholipids also contain cholesterol, used by the body to manufacture Vitamin D, various needed hormones and bile acid. Cholesterol is also an important component in cell membranes. Baby’s Only Essentials® DHA & ARA is a well understood and safe source of DHA and ARA.
The most common source of DHA comes from fish oil, but fish sources may contain farm land chemical run-off and various toxins from ocean pollution, including mercury. In fact, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warn that a young child’s consumption of certain fish should be restricted. For additional information on fish and fish oil consumption, an excellent source is:
In addition, fish oil is not used in infant formula because of studies showing that preterm infants supplemented with fish oil weighed less or had lower weight for length at various times during the first year of life than infants given a formula without the supplemental fish oil.*
Source: Carlson, SE, Cooke, RJ, Werkman, SH et al. “First year growth of preterm infants fed standard compared to marine oil n-3 supplemented formula.” Lipids. 1992; 27:901-907
Sam Zeller, Ph.D. - Martek Biosciences Corporation, Food & Drug Administration Agency Response Letter, GRAS Notice No. GRN 000137
- Who else may benefit from DHA and ARA?
The best source of DHA & ARA for babies is provided through breast milk. Women who are pregnant or lactating should consult a healthcare professional to determine the daily quantity and best source of DHA to consume. The following link provides information about breast milk and DHA & ARA:
- Should I use Baby’s Only DHA & ARA if my child has egg sensitivities?
Baby’s Only Essentials® uses egg yolk phospholipids as the source of DHA and ARA. Typically an egg allergy is caused by the egg white rather than the yolk. It is the protein component of foods that usually elicit an allergic reaction. Because the phospholipid (not protein) from the egg yolk is used in Baby’s Only Essentials®, there is only a very minute chance that an allergic response will occur. Even so, if there is a family history or the child has a history of acute allergies or egg sensitivities, consult your healthcare professional first before using the supplement.
- How much Baby’s Only DHA & ARA should I use?
Baby’s Only Essentials® DHA & ARA is designed to contain a safe and appropriate balance of DHA and ARA for children 1 - 3 years of age. For routine use, provide one single packet, 1 to 2 times per day or as directed by the child’s healthcare professional. One serving provides 15 milligrams of DHA and 30 milligrams of ARA.*
*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.