The New York Times on DHA

Personally, when I think Dr. Fuhrman, I think DHA. You’ve heard of it right? Docosahexaenoic acid. A very important nutrient according to Dr. Fuhrman, but one that most people’s diets are extremely deficient in—not good when you consider the consequences. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid. About half of the brain and eyes are made up of fat, much of which is DHA, which is an essential nutrient for optimal brain and eye function.1 Children’s diets today are notoriously low in the beneficial omega-3 fats found in foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, soybeans, leafy greens, and certain fish.

Deficiency in DHA fatty acids has been linked to:
  • Impulsiveness
  • Aggressiveness
  • Dyslexia
  • Depression
  • Reduced intelligence
  • Sleep problems
  • Temper tantrums
  • Alcoholism
  • Schizophrenia
  • Manic depression2
So given our nation’s DHA-ignorance, I was elated to read this article in The Sunday New York Times. Gary Rivlin conducts an investigation on DHA and how one bioscience corporation wants to put it in many of our foods:
Martek Biosciences, which is based here, between Baltimore and Washington, says it has made that most magical of food discoveries: an essential nutrient that can be added invisibly to the diet without any appreciable impact on taste or eating habits.

Martek has had considerable success adding an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, to infant formula. And, on paper at least, DHA also sounds like the perfect supplement for Americans, who seem to grow more obsessed with healthy eating the more poorly they eat.

If food makers would only sprinkle some DHA into everything from the milk people put in their coffee each morning to the chocolate bars they snack on at night, Martek’s scientists say, consumers would end up with healthier hearts, sharper minds and better vision.

But the country’s big food companies have not exactly embraced DHA the way that Martek executives figured they would — or should. For several years, the company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars increasing its production capacity in anticipation of a deluge of orders that have yet to materialize.
Now, remember how I told you that Dr. Fuhrman and DHA are practically synonymous? Check out what he had to say about Martek:
Martek is the company that supplies the DHA in my DHA Purity. What makes our DHA product unique is that we are the only company that packages the product in glass and keep it refrigerated. When it is made, we have it shipped to us in refrigerated trucks, right from the day of manufacture, assuring no rancidity. Other DHA supplements we have tested have had a surprisingly high rancidity stores and they taste foul if you cut open the capsule. Once these oils are packed, shipped, stored, in distribution centers and then distributed to health food stores it is no longer fresh.
For more on DHA, take a gander at these previous posts:
1. Haag M. Essential fatty acids and the brain Can J Psychiatry 2003;48(3):195-203.

2. Turner N, Else PL, Hulbert AJ. Docosahexarnoic acid (DHA) content of membranes determines molecular activity of the sodium pump: implication for disease states and metabolism. Naturwissenschaften 2003;90(11):521-523. Saugstad LF. Human nature is unique in the mismatch between the usual diet and the need for “food for the brain” (marine fat, DHA). Adding marine fat is beneficial in schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis. This underlines [that] brain dysfunction in these neurological disorders is associated with deficient intake of marine fat (DHA). Nutr Health 2002;16(1):41-44.
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