Behind the Label: DHA and ARA

by Lina Ristevska March 18, 2015

An inside look at DHA and ARA, and why they’re important for children’s growth and development.

By Dr. Annie Salsberg, ND

What are DHA and ARA?

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) are the two major fatty acids found in human milk. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is crucial for brain, eye and neurological development for children. ARA is an omega-6 fatty acid which supports normal brain development, as well as the repair and growth of muscle tissue. DHA and ARA are fundamental components of the cell membrane and are both crucial for neural cell growth and signal transmission in the developing nervous system.

Since children’s brains grow rapidly during the infant and toddler stages, DHA and ARA are especially important to support development in the first two years of life.  There are many studies that highlight the importance of both DHA and ARA in infants and children. These include positive effects on the developing visual system, as well as cognitive development.

Why do we add it?

DHA and ARA are naturally found in breast milk. Expert groups including the World Health Organization endorse the addition of DHA and ARA in formula. It recommends that ARA is added in at least double concentration to DHA in formula to maintain a balance of fatty acids consistent with breast milk.

Further, the European Commission has proposed mandatory inclusion of DHA in formula, based on its essential role in child development. Studies have shown that supplementing both DHA and ARA, instead of DHA alone, is important for development.

We add DHA and ARA to KABRITA Goat Milk Formula to closely match the composition of breast milk and ensure your child gets the essential nutrition they need for optimal growth and development.

What are KABRITA’s DHA and ARA sources?

The DHA source used in KABRITA Goat Milk Formula is Crypthecodinium Cohnii Oil (DHASCO) also known as DHA algal oil or Life’s DHA. It is non-GMO and approved as an organic material by the USDA National Organic Program. The National Organic Board also approves DHA algal oil to be used in organic products and as a plant-based, non-synthetic, non-agricultural substance.

Kabrita uses ARA from Mortierella alpina oil (ARASCO) which is approved by the FDAfor use in formula.

Is DHA made with hexane?

Hexane is a solvent commonly used to extract oils. While it is used in the initial extraction process, the solvent evaporates in the subsequent refining process as the final production process includes a high vacuum deodorization at over 200°C. In the verification process several lots of oil are tested for hexane residue. The FDA imposes a residue limit of <0.3 parts per million and upon testing, no detectable residue of hexane remains in the finished DHA oil ingredient once the manufacturing and purification process is complete.

Does DHA contain bleach? 

Life’s DHA does not contain bleach. “Bleaching” refers to the process that uses either absorbent clay or activated carbon to remove color pigments and oxidation products from the ingredient. Color pigments are removed so that the oil is clear, rather than cloudy; oxidization products are removed to prevent the oil from going rancid. The clay or carbon used to do this is then removed by filtration.

Behind the label is an ongoing series looking at the ingredients we choose to include in KABRITA products, in order to help parents make nutritional decisions for their family with confidence and joy.

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Lina Ristevska
Lina Ristevska