Do We Get Enough DHA in our diets?
The short answer is “No, not even close” (according to the University of Maryland Medical Center and many other studies).
On average, the typical American diet contains less than 100mg of DHA per day, well below the 220mg of DHA per day that is recommended by The National Institutes of Health and International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (NIH/ISSFAL).
Pregnant and Nursing Women need about 300mg per day of DHA.
Vegetarian, and especially vegan, diets typically do not provide enough DHA unless they are taking DHA supplements.
Dietary Sources of DHA:
•Algae - Certain algae are natural sources of DHA. While most people believe that fish produce their own DHA, in fact, it’s the algae (plants) in their food chain that makes them a rich source of DHA. Supplements made from algae are a natural source of DHA suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
•Fatty fish including anchovies, salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, tuna, halibut and shellfish.
•Eggs naturally contain small amounts of DHA, but new DHA enriched eggs can contain up to 150mg of DHA per egg.
•DHA fortified foods, beverages and supplements.
•Organ meats like liver. Unfortunately most cattle and chicken are now fed grains, instead of grass and their natural foods, which lowers the amount of DHA found in these foods.
•Breast milk supplies infants with all the DHA they need. Babies fed with formula should be given formulas fortified with DHA.
•Fish oil supplements.
Technically, there is no difference between DHA from fish, fish oils and DHA extracted from a vegetarian source like algae a plant. One benefit of plant sourced DHA is it is free from the worry of ocean-borne contaminants and toxins like mercury often found in many fish.