DHAid™ is a vegetarian source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential long-chain omega-3 fatty acid. DHAid™ is produced from naturally occurring microalgae via a patented fermentation process. DHAid™ is available in different concentrations for various applications.
DHA is a major building block of cell membranes and can be found in high concentrations especially in the brain, nerve tissue, and in the retina of the eye. Health benefits of DHAid™ include the support of brain development and function as well as heart and eye health.
DHAid™ Health Benefits
DHA is a major building block of cell membranes and can be found in high concentrations in the brain, nerve tissue and in the retina of the eye. It is essential for the development of these cells and organs. Due to this important role it is not surprising that a vast amount of research shows that DHA can have a positive effect on many areas of health and for all age groups.
DHA in the body is derived from two sources. Limited amounts are converted in vivo from alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid provided through the diet. The major part, however, comes directly from dietary sources, especially from fatty fish, such as herring, mackerel, tuna or wild salmon. However, as a typical Western diet does not include high amounts of fatty fish, the DHA intake is well below recommended values. Vegetarians and people who do not like fish also have a limited intake of DHA. Therefore, the consumption of dietary supplements and functional foods and beverages enriched with DHA is an attractive option in order to achieve the typically recommended daily intake.
Mother and Child
Docosahexaenoic acid is important throughout pregnancy and lactation for the health of both the mother and her baby. Under the present dietary conditions, though, maternal intake of omega-3 fatty acids is insufficient to keep up with the increased demand during pregnancy. Especially in the last trimester, the period during which much of the fetus’ brain, eye and nervous system development occurs, maternal DHA levels decline significantly. Most national and international authorities (NIH, ISSFAL, AFSSA, and others) therefore recommend increasing DHA intake during pregnancy and lactation to 200-300 mg/day. After birth, the newborn baby continues to obtain DHA from the mother via breast milk. Prenatal and early postnatal positive DHA status is thought to have important consequences on the growth and function of the central nervous system (CNS) and, consequently, on neurological and cognitive development of the child. Additionally, human pregnancy supplementation trials with omega-3 fatty acids have shown a significant positive effect on full-term pregnancy as well as healthy post-partum mental status.
Various scientific studies clearly demonstrate that a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, correlates with heart health. Interestingly, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) as a dietary precursor fatty acid for DHA, has not consistently been found to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. The heart health effects of DHA include effects on triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, platelet function, endothelial and vascular function, blood pressure, cardiac excitability, measures of oxidative stress as well as pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines.
DHA is a major structural and functional building block of the brain – about 30% of the structural lipids of the grey matter are DHA. Hence, it is not surprising that DHA deficiency in early life has been associated with a variety of learning and cognitive disorders. DHA is required during fetal and child development for the growth and functional development of the brain. In adolescents, DHA supplementation was found to prevent aggression enhancement during times of mental stress, such as in exam periods. In adults, DHA maintains normal brain function, and scientific evidence links reduced DHA levels to mental and neurological health concerns.
Since fish is the major source of DHA in the human diet, non-fish eaters and vegetarians have a particularly low intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore vegetarians can especially benefit from DHA supplementation. When considering supplementation, vegetarians should keep in mind that DHAid™ is a vegetarian source of DHA and therefore ideal to enrich a vegetarian diet with essential omega-3 fatty acids.
The importance of DHA in retinal function is reflected by the high concentration of DHA especially in the retinal photoreceptor where it makes up about 30-40% of the fatty acid composition. In the photoreceptors DHA is involved in the intercellular signalling pathway that transforms light signals into neuronal activity. DHA plays an especially important role in eye health during the prenatal phase and in the first years of life as well as in the elderly. Several human studies support the importance of adequate maternal DHA consumption during pregnancy for the maturation of the visual system of infants. In addition, diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and especially DHA may act in a protective role against age-associated pathology to the vascular and neural retina in the elderly.
During weight loss programs the intake of dietary fat is usually considerably reduced, reducing intake of essential omega-3 fatty acids as well. Supplementation with DHA can contribute to a higher DHA uptake. In addition, there are rare reports of enhanced fatty acid metabolism after DHA intake. It is important to note that DHAid™ contains a higher percentage of DHA than typical fish oils. Thus, much smaller amounts of oil and hence less calories are required to provide the same amount of DHA.
Diets of elderly people are frequently less balanced than those of the younger population. Thus, dietary intake of DHA may be impaired to a certain extent. But even with two fish meals per week (as recommended by nutrition organizations), elderly people may benefit from supplementation with DHAid™ in manifold ways: it helps maintain a healthy brain, normal visual function, and last but not least supports a healthy cardiovascular system.
DHAid™ Quality and Technical Information
DHAid™ is produced by a patented fermentation process using the naturally occurring microalgae Schizochytrium.
During the fermentation process microalgae are grown in closed fermentation vessels in large quantities, while inducing significant DHA accumulation at the same time. After the fermentation process, DHAid™ is extracted from the microalgae by applying extraction and refining processes that are very similar to those used in the production of conventional vegetable oils. Since the production process is based upon renewable resources, environmental risks such as overfishing can be avoided.
The innovative technology allows DHA oils to be produced with a superior quality as comopared to DHA commonly extracted from cold water fish.
Lonza offers DHAid in oil, powder and bulk soft gels. Please contact us for more details.
Lonza has vast experience and knowledge in product development, marketing and scientific support for DHAid™. Please contact us to find out how your products can benefit from this expertise.