DHA, essential during the early years

22nd July 2020

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a polyunsaturated, long-chain, omega-3 fatty acid. It is found especially in seafood and is essential in the diets of children, as it helps with the development of sight and is found in high concentrations in brain structures. Breastfeeding is the best option to ensure that infants receive an adequate intake of DHA. If using an infant formula, choose one that is rich in DHA.

Humans can synthesise DHA from its precursor, alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. However, sometimes our bodies do not make enough DHA to meet our needs, making it important that we also consume it preformed directly through food.

This is particularly important during the early years of life when we have less ability to create DHA than in adulthood and when the fatty acid is used for development and the formation of different bodily structures.

 DHA is found in significant amounts in breast milk, so while infants are breastfeeding they receive the daily amounts required for proper development.

If breastfeeding is not possible, we recommend using infant formulas containing DHA, at least until you can introduce foods that contain it in greater amounts, such as oily fish and egg yolks.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends that children between the ages of 2 and 18 years consume at least 1-2 servings of oily fish per week, the equivalent of 250 mg EPA + DHA per day.

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