What is DHA?
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid that is needed by every member of the family and at every age: prenatal, infants, adolescents, adults and the seniors.
VivaNUTRITION provides pure DHA from sustainable and responsibly farmed algae. Normally, fish eat algae which is why many people obtain their omegas from fish oil. In our case we are going straight to the algae source, so concerns about heavy metals and sustainable fisheries are both removed when taking vivaNUTRITION.
Our children’s DHA is rapidly accumulated in the brain during pregnancy and early infancy, and the intake of DHA (prenatal and post-natal) leads to advanced cognitive development (ACS). ACS has profound impacts on quality of life, learning and productivity.
Studies have also shown modest benefit with DHA for age-related cognitive decline (ARCD). ARCD is not considered a disease, is gradual and a normal consequence of aging. A 66 month study of 65 year old adults with mild cognitive impairment, showed that those receiving daily high DHA omega-3 oil improved scores on verbal fluency, compared to those in the control group receiving safflower oil.
As the modern diet typically lacks significant amounts of DHA, vivaNUTRITION decided to put major efforts in developing DHA containing products, for supporting overall brain function.
Can DHA improve the efficiency of the adult brain?
Very few controlled clinical trials have actually been performed in an attempt to improve brain function in adults as opposed to the potential management/treatment of problems such as ADHD or anxiety. Improvements in brain function have been observed in some infant trials where infant formula containing DHA had been compared directly to corresponding formula lacking DHA. In 1999, a workshop convened at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, involving experts in the field of Omega-3 research recommended minimal daily intakes of 220 mg DHA/day for adults for overall human health (including brain functioning) and a total DHA/EPA intake of 650 mg daily. (source: DHA-EPA Omega 3 Institute).
What is the difference between DHA from Algae versus Flaxseed?
Unlike vivaNUTRITION DHA from algae, the oldest plants on earth, likewise plant sourced flaxseed and flaxseed oil contains approximately 50-60% of the total fatty acids as alpha-Linolenic Acid (LNA) but without DHA. Some varieties of flaxseed oil contain up to approximately 75% of the total fatty acid content as LNA (but again, without DHA omega-3).
During the pre-natal period/development, there is very strong evidence that DHA omega-3 fatty acid is very important for the provision of DHA for brain development and optimal functioning. DHA omega-3 is a physiologically-essential nutrient for the brain. In view of the very limited metabolic conversion of dietary/nutritional sources of LNA to DHA in the human body (including infants), a supply of pre-formed DHA is of great importance for ensuring an adequate supply of this important nutrient for the brain. DHA omega-3 is needed at considerably high concentrations in the brain for optimal development and cognitive functioning. Regardless of the level of intake of LNA omega-3, it is present at very low concentrations in brain tissue in direct contrast to the high levels of DHA omega-3. (source: DHA-EPA Omega 3 Institute).
Will DHA increase blood sugar levels and lower glucose tolerance in pre-diabetics?
Two thorough reviews based on the various published clinical trials have appeared recently on this topic. In their review, Drs. Nettleton and Katz (J. Am Dietetic Assoc., 105:428-440 (2005)) concluded that controlled clinical studies have shown that consumption of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from fish/fish oils as DHA/EPA (combined) exhibit positive heart effects in persons with Type 2 Diabetes “without adverse effects on glucose control and insulin activity.”
They also mention the various benefits including apparent lower risk of primary cardiac arrest, reduced cardiovascular mortality (particularly sudden cardiac death) and the favorable effects on blood triglyceride levels and other risk factors associated with poor cardiovascular health. They consider the favorable effects to outweigh the modest increase in low-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol levels that may result in some patients on increased intakes of DHA/EPA.
The authors also reference preliminary evidence suggesting that increased consumption of DHA/EPA along with reduced intakes of saturated fats may reduce the risk of conversion from negative affected glucose tolerance to type 2 diabetes in people who are overweight.
A recent review of this topic by Dr. Edward Barre (J. Oleo sci., 56:319-325 (2007)) concluded that DHA/EPA consumption appears to significantly benefit metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes (particularly in terms of triglycerides and blood platelets) with potential but somewhat less established impacts on blood pressure and LDL oxidation. (source: DHA-EPA Omega 3 Institute)