Do children need DHA supplements?

Parents all hope their babies can be healthy and intelligent, and DHA, known as “brain gold”, has received special attention from parents.

However, is DHA really that magical?

Does the baby need DHA supplements?

Today, Dr. Clove will tell you about the DHA supplement for babies.

What is good about DHA?

In short, DHA can help baby’s nerve and vision development.

The full name of DHA [docosahexaenoic acid] belongs to-3 unsaturated fatty acid. It has long carbon chain and many double bonds, and is closely related to the development of brain nerves and vision.

Studies have shown that adequate DHA intake by mothers during pregnancy and lactation can promote the development of baby’s nerve, vision and immune system and long-term cognitive ability.

    DHA supplementation during pregnancy can reduce the risk of early premature delivery and moderately promote fetal growth. DHA has positive effects on infant nerve function and optic nerve development, and can regulate immune function. DHA may also be beneficial to improving postpartum depression and neonatal sleep.

Which foods have more DHA?

Marine fish with high fat content are an important source of DHA. At the same time, some seaweed also have high DHA content.

However, it should be noted that some marine fish have high mercury content, such as sharks, arrow rain, square head fish and nitrile fish, which should be avoided as much as possible.

Relatively safe sources of DHA include: salmon, sardines and other marine fish, shrimp, crab, shellfish, cuttlefish, kelp, laver, Undaria pinnatifida and other marine algae, egg yolk.

The Chinese Nutrition Society suggests that pregnant women and lactating mothers should eat not less than 200 mg of DHA per day, can eat 2-3 meals of fish per week, and have more than 1 meal of marine fish with high fat content, and eat 1 egg per day to meet the demand of DHA.

Except fish and shrimp, DHA content in other foods is very low.

What needs to be reminded is that although in theory, linolenic acid in vegetable foods can be partially converted into DHA in the body, the conversion rate is relatively low. Therefore, if you don’t eat foods rich in DHA and expect linolenic acid in some vegetable oils to be converted into DHA in the body, it is actually a matter of giving up the cost and going to the end. It is better to supplement DHA directly.

Does the baby need DHA?

We should make up for it, but we should pay attention to methods.

Babies are encouraged to supplement DHA through breast milk first. You know, DHA was first found in breast milk, not deep sea fish or seaweed as we usually think.

1. Full-term infants have enough breast milk.

For breast-fed full-term infants, breast milk is enough and no additional DHA is required.

The daily intake of DHA by lactating mothers is 200 mg, which can ensure the daily intake of DHA for infants to reach 100 mg and meet the growth and development needs of infants.

2. No breast milk, milk powder

In the case of inability to breastfeed or insufficient breast milk, formula milk powder containing DHA can be applied, in which DHA content should be 0.2 ~ 0.5% of total fat.

3. Premature infants should pay attention to

Special attention should be paid to the demand for DHA in premature infants. The European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition recommends that the daily intake of DHA for premature infants should be 12-30 mg per kg body weight. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that premature infants with a birth weight of less than 1,000 g should have a daily DHA intake of ≥ 21 mg per kilogram of body weight, while premature infants with a birth weight of less than 1,500 g should have a daily DHA intake of ≥ 18 mg per kilogram of body weight.

For premature infants, the amount of DHA needed for a day can be calculated according to the baby’s weight. As the intake of DHA varies according to different feeding methods, it is recommended to consult a doctor to determine whether your baby needs to supplement DHA through supplements.

4. Children mainly supplement and eat

For young children, it is recommended to give priority to food supplement, which can be met by adjusting the diet and eating some foods rich in DHA. You can eat 280-350 g of fish every week, ensuring 2-3 meals of fish in a week, and more than 1 meal is marine fish with high fat content.

5. Supplements, necessary?

A new problem has arisen. Do you want to take DHA supplements?

If you can’t eat enough DHA in your food, you can supplement it with DHA supplements.

Although fish and algae are the best natural sources of DHA, if you don’t like fish and algae or can’t eat these DHA-rich foods, you should take supplements.

No matter during pregnancy, lactation or young children, DHA supplements should be used if the recommended intake cannot be reached after dietary structure adjustment.

As long as the product is qualified, there is no risk of what if eaten normally, so DHA supplement is optional as a simple and convenient supplement.

How to choose DHA supplement for baby?

There are two common DHA supplements, DHA from fish oil and DHA from algae oil. Which is better?

Fish oil is a DHA-containing product, because deep sea fish also contain DHA because they eat seaweed, so algae are relatively pure DHA products.

In addition, fish oil contains EPA, a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid with vasodilation and coagulation inhibition effects.

The National Standard for Infant Formula Food (0 ~ 6 months old) stipulates that the EPA content shall not exceed DHA content, that is to say, the addition amount of EPA shall not exceed 0.5% of the total fat.

EPA has also not been approved to be added to infant foods as a food nutrition enhancer. Therefore, infants are not recommended to eat too much food containing EPA.

Therefore, relatively speaking, algal oil without EPA is a more suitable DHA source for infants.

When it is not possible to guarantee sufficient DHA intake through food and supplements are needed to supplement DHA, if the baby is eating formula milk containing DHA, the amount of DHA intake of the baby’s daily formula milk can be calculated before determining the appropriate DHA supplement dose.

If the formula does not contain DHA, it is recommended to choose a supplement with a unit dose of 100 mg.


1. The daily intake of DHA for infants should reach 100 mg, and the daily intake of DHA for pregnant and nursing women should not be less than 200 mg.

2. The best source of DHA is food. For young children, pregnant women and lactating mothers, DHA needs can be met through a reasonable diet as far as possible. DHA-rich foods include salmon, sardines, shrimps, sea crabs, shellfish, cuttlefish, seaweed and egg yolk.

3. Breast milk is the main source of DHA for infants. Breastfed full-term infants do not need to supplement DHA additionally. Mothers themselves should pay attention to eating more DHA-rich foods such as marine fish with low pollution level. If the food intake of DHA is not enough, they can choose DHA supplements.

4. Special attention should be paid to the demand of premature infants for DHA.

5. If the intake of DHA in natural food is insufficient, it can be supplemented by supplements.