have a cognitive advantage over babies fed with infant formula containing no DHA. The study found that the breast fedchildren demonstrated an 8 point intellectual advantage when they were administered standard IQ tests.Other research supports the conclusion that the DHA levels in American women today are comparable to that of women in Third World countries, largely as the result of dietary choices.
Sources of DHA
The level of DHA available to support brain and nervous system development in the fetus and to be transferred from themother to the infant via breast milk is highly dependent on the diet of the mother. Food sources providing superior levels of DHA are primarily salmon, sardines, tuna and other fatty cold water fish. Lesser amounts may be found ineggs, red meats and organ meats.The vegetarian food source producing the greatest amounts of DHA is flax. Other vegetarian sources include soybeans,walnuts and canola oil. It is important to note that the vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acid is ALA (alpha linolenicacid). ALA is not equivalent in its biological effects to DHA, which is more rapidly incorporated into plasma andmembrane lipids and produces more rapid effects than does ALA. ALA is converted in the liver to EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid), which then converts to DHA. This conversion is not always reliable and may be restricted byinsufficiencies in the body. So even though ALA is beneficial for health, DHA is best obtained directly from animalsources.Realizing the need for this amazing nutrient, some people supplement their diets with fish oil capsules. If this is your choice, remember that DHA is highly unsaturated so it is very susceptible to free radical damage. Such molecular damage is the reason why old fish has that pungent fishy smell. This is also why you should be careful to eat only thefreshest fish. Canned fish may be a good choice as fish is canned when very fresh. DHA survives the canning processwell, and canned fish is not noted for the presence of bisphenol A, a hazardous compound found in many other cannedfoods.When buying fish oil capsules, be sure to buy only a high quality brand. Buy in quantities you can reasonably consumein a short period of time, and store the bottle in the refrigerator. It may be best to cut open a capsule and sample the oil.Fresh fish oil should have almost no odor and only a slight after-taste.Do not fall into that old idea 'if some is good, more is better'. If large amounts of supplemental DHA are taken, seriousimbalances may occur. A typical adult dose is 4 1000 mg. capsules per day. If you wish to supplement your child after breast feeding is discontinued, use 1/4 teaspoon of liquid fish oil rubbed into the body up to the age of one year.Administered this way, the oil will go directly into the infant's blood stream. For children ages one to two, use 1/2teaspoon. After age two a child can be given a teaspoon of oil a day.
FDA Continues to Ban DHA in Infant Formula
DHA has received glowing recommendations from the World Health Organization, the Food and AgriculturalOrganization of the United Nations, and the National Institutes of Health.In 1996, the retired chairman of pediatrics of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine led a campaign in whichoutraged researchers and pediatricians bombarded the FDA with over 1,000 letters pleading and demanding that theyensure the health and well being of children by at least allowing the addition of DHA to infant formula.Despite these endorsements and the mounting research providing evidence that DHA is the one essential structuralingredient missing in infant formula, the FDA continues to ban its use in infant formulas with the result that childrenwho are not breast fed encounter the world at a disadvantage.
About the author
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using"alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.Get articles like this delivered to you FREE in our popular email newsletter
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