Thursday, November 22, 2007

DHA - The secret to Fish Oils

After a nice little break attending conferences in Florida, I'm right back into attending seminars in Canada.

Normally, I probably would have taken a day or two off, but yesterday's seminar was on a topic I've always found somewhat confusing - fish oils.

After sitting through a very entertaining lecture, I can tell you that the most important thing you need to know about fish oils is actually the three letters. D-H-A.

These three letters stand for the omega 3 fatty acid Docosahexanoic Acid, but since that's a bit of a tongue twister, everyone just says "DHA".

For all purposes DHA is the reason omega-3 supplements are so popular right now.

DHA is the component of fish oil that plays an important role in the development of brains and eyes of children, and may play a role our brain development even as adults.

The 'Secret' of fish oil is that the daily intake of DHA in North America is incredibly low. North American women tend to average around 80 mg per day of DHA, while children under the of 3 have a daily intake of less than 20 mg. So even the smallest amount of extra DHA in your diet could double your intake!

Now, increasing your intake of omega-3 oils from plants like flax seeds or flax seed oil will do very little to help boost your DHA levels. As it turns out, the best way to increase your DHA levels is by eating DHA. And that means eating more fish, fish oils, or some of the new algae based products that have also appeared on the market.

Now, before you start saying "but Brad, I hate fish and I hate the fish burps I get from fish oil capsules", let me tell you the good news- There are other options.

The next time you go to the grocery store, keep an eye out for foods that now have extra DHA in them. There are eggs and milk that have the added DHA, and of course my favorite, the chocolate milk with DHA. A food that adds as little as 10 mg of DHA to your diet per serving could drastically improve your DHA intake.

Here's my tip for you today - If you don't like fish and don't like taking pills, you can increase your DHA with these new functional foods (and they still taste great). A little extra could go a long way in helping you reach optimal health.

Brad and the team at grrlAthlete.com


PS- If you want to learn more about the health benefits of DHA you can visit the website DHAomega3.org

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6 comments:

billy said...

What about EPA? I thought both of those acids were important aspects of fish oil...

The Mommy Blogger said...

I love my yogurt with the additional DHA. DHA is very good if you are pregnant too - get the pre natal vitamins with the DHA suppliment!

Brad Pilon said...

Hi Billy,

Sorry about the delay getting back to you.

While EPA is important, it converts to DHA very poorly (Just like the rest of the Omega-3's).

So even if you have a diet high in EPA, you can still cause your body to be low in DHA.

BP

Brad Pilon said...

Hi Mommy Blogger,

Thanks for the post, totally agree with you on the prenatal DHA.

BP

billy said...

My understanding on the subject is that EPA is the fatty acid that has shown benefits as far as being a powerful anti-inflammatory, as well as having a significant impact on depression-related disorders.

My opinion is to look for supplements that are high in both EPA and DHA.

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