Docosahexaenoic acid, commonly referred to as DHA, is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid. DHA makes up a large portion of our brain and eyes and is crucial to their proper function. Today’s standard American diet is severely lacking in wholesome natural sources of DHA like walnuts, flax seeds, soybeans, leafy greens, and certain fish. What happens when a person doesn’t consume enough DHA?
DHA deficiency has been linked to ADHD, sleep problems, impulsiveness, aggressiveness, dyslexia, depression, reduced intelligence, alcoholism, childhood tantrums, schizophrenia, and manic depression.
Fish oil used to be the go-to supplement for DHA, but some fish-oil based brands contain chemical pollutants and toxins as a result of the environment the fish was in. Nowadays, safer, algae-derived DHA supplements are available. Algae is the source of DHA for many fish–why not go to the source?
DHA is also conspicuously absent from cow’s milk–yet ANOTHER reason not to feed dairy to children. DHA is found in breast milk as well as infant formulas, making them a better option for children too young to consume plant-based milks like almond, soy, coconut, rice, hemp, and flax. For more on this, see my post on the dangers of dairy and what milk to give vegan toddlers.