Learn about DHA Food Sources

Published: 15th November 2009
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It never fails... You may be disappointed to learn that the only DHA food sources are some types of fish and seafood. Unlike other nutrients which are abundant in a variety of different foods, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is limited in the food chain.

Fish get it by eating certain kinds of marine algae and by eating smaller fish. Seaweed, which is a kind of marine algae, and kelp have been suggested as vegan alternatives for Docosahexaenoic acid, but the amount that is in a serving of kelp is very small, if it is present at all.

Wakame kelp, for example, is a source of Eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA, a different omega-3. There is no doubt that wakame is healthy. It provides a variety of different micronutrients, including fucoxanthin, which research indicates may help burn fatty tissues.

But, in order to get 200mg of EPA, you would need to eat about 50 grams or 22 tablespoons of dried wakame. People usually only eat a couple of tablespoons in soups, salads and side dishes.

Some types of marine algae are being grown by supplement manufacturers in bioreactors. These algae are not to be used as DHA food sources, but to be included in supplements and used to fortify other foods. For example, fortified infant formulas and baby food probably contain marine algae or nutrients derived from it.

There's another conundrum that people run into when trying to include more Docosahexaenoic acid in their diet. Manufacturers don't list the amount that is in a specific piece of fish. Even finding information on the internet concerning the DHA-content of specific species is difficult, if not downright impossible.

You can find out how many total omega-3s are in a specific species, on the average. For example a serving of salmon should provide 1100mg of omega-3s. But, are salmon good DHA food sources?

They are considered one of the better choices for omega-3 consumption. But, the amount in each filet will vary. Even the season during which it was caught will make a difference.

No one is saying don't eat salmon. As long as you buy Alaskan, the populations are strong and the flesh is free of mercury. The fish contains a great deal of other nutrients, including Astaxanthin, a unique antioxidant responsible for the pink color. Some researchers hail Astaxanthin as a longevity nutrient.

But, ultimately, when it comes to DHA food sources, you never know what you are getting. Some experts recommend that the optimal intake would be around 500mg per day of Docosahexaenoic acid, about 1000mg of total omega-3s and at least 200mg of Eicosapentaenoic acid. These recommendations are considered by some doctors to be the minimum intake during pregnancy, because the nutrients are essential for normal fetal development.

Now that you know this, the only way to insure that you are getting enough to prevent chronic diseases and improve your overall health is to take a dietary supplement. Purified fish oil or a natural triglyceride that contains no contaminants is the best choice. The DHA food sources are just not that "consistent".

Laurel Cohen is a strong advocate of natural health in all its forms: skin care, supplementation, and farm fresh foods. She enjoys introducing people to the best natural products she can find and uses herself daily.

Visit her site http://www.omega-3-for-health.com to learn about the omega 3 fish oils Laurel uses daily for optimal health.

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