What is DHA | Importance of DHA | Benefits of DHA | Is My Baby Getting Enough DHA? | Sources of DHA

What is DHA?

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in high amounts in foods like fish and other seafood. It’s a key nutrient during infancy and early childhood because it helps support brain and eye development.

Why is DHA important?

DHA helps encourage healthy brain development. During the early years, DHA supports both cognitive development and nervous system development.

What are some benefits of DHA for babies?

Clinical studies have demonstrated that DHA helps support certain learning outcomes, visual acuity, and overall brain development in babies. DHA is found in breast milk and is important both in utero and after birth, which are reasons why this nutrient can also be found in prenatal supplements and some baby formulas. When a baby outgrows infant formula, DHA may continue to be an important nutrient as their brain grows to 85% of its adult size during the first three years of life.

How much DHA is my baby getting?

It all depends on how much DHA is in your breast milk and/or how much DHA is in your formula. The amount of DHA in breast milk can vary drastically depending on your diet, where you live, and your genetics along with other factors. When it comes to formulas, some baby formulas may have different amounts of DHA.

How do I include DHA in my baby’s diet?

Babies get their DHA from breast milk and/or formula, and from complementary foods once they have reached the appropriate age to introduce solid foods into their diet. If you’re breastfeeding, chat with your doctor about how you can incorporate more DHA into your diet. Some sources of DHA may include:

  • Salmon
  • White tuna
  • Fortified eggs
  • Crab
  • Shrimp

If you’re breastfeeding, it may also help to continue taking your prenatal supplement if it has DHA as well. One expert body recommends pregnant and breastfeeding women consume at least 200 mg of DHA daily.* Formula fed babies can get more DHA by giving them a baby formula with recommended levels of DHA.

DHA is an important nutrient in your baby’s diet for a lot of reasons, so make sure you’re little one is getting DHA to help support their development.

*The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL)