Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid important to eye, brain and heart health. DHA benefits infant visual development. An infant’s visual development is improved whether the DHA is given by mother’s milk or in infant formula. In aging humans, DHA benefits brain and eye health.
The American diet is DHA deficient; the average person consumes less than 100 mg. DHA per day. Nursing or pregnant mothers need 200-300 mg. per day. Major food sources are fish and marine life. Algae are the primary producers of DHA. Fish, such as salmon, are a good DHA source. Commercial algae oil is produced by fermentation.
Little is known about the omega-3 from plant and other vegetarian sources. The authors evaluated DHA oils from two strains of algae given in capsules and an algae fortified DHA food. Testing was done of the DHA levels in plasma and in red blood cells.
The subjects were followed for 4 weeks. Blood levels ‘level off’ after 2-3 weeks of supplementation. DHA doses were 200, 600 or 1000 mg. per day. Blood level testing included DHA, arachidonic acid (ARA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA.) The strains of algae oil used were “DHASCO-T” (produced by Crypthecodinium cohnii) and “DHASCO-S” (produced by Schizochytrium sp.) DHASCO-S is used to increase DHA in commercial eggs.
Testing showed that the levels of DHA achieved in the body depended on the DHA dose given. Response was good to the capsules of algae oil and to the fortified food. DHA in a snack bar and in capsules gave similar rises in blood levels. Red blood cell levels of DHA continued to rise at 4 weeks. ARA levels were reduced by DHASCO-T algae oil in a dose-dependent manor. …”ARA levels decrease approximately 0.20 g per 100 g fatty acid for each 100 mg DHA dose from DHASCO-T.” DHASCO-T algae oil contains mostly DHA.
CONCLUSION: Testing shows that DHA is absorbed in humans from two different algae oils. Also, DHA is absorbed when it is added to a snack food, such as a bar. ARA is reduced by DHASCO-T algae oil.