Artificial DHA & ARA may be not so good after all…

Good news for women who choose to breastfeed — you don’t have to worry about what they may find out about infant formula in the future.

Click here for the whole blog post, but the highlights — 98 reports of complaints of babies who suffered vomiting and diarrhea and seizures on formulas “enhanced” with DHA and ARA, and their symptoms went away when switched to formulas without DHA and ARA.

The FDA has never been convinced of the safety of DHA/ARA additives, according to the report. In its initial analysis of the additives, the FDA stated it had reached no determination on their safety status. The administration also noted that some studies had reported unexpected deaths among infants who had been fed with DHA/ARA formula. Despite its reservations, inexplicably the FDA did not withhold approval for the additives.

Martek Biosciences Corporation, the company that supplies almost all formula companies with DHA/ARA, has admitted that the purpose of the additives is not to encourage healthy development, but to be used as a marketing tool… Martek produces DHA and ARA from fermented algae and fungus, and uses hexane (a neurotoxin) in the manufacturing process.

For the full report click here (a 66-page PDF file, at 8 Mb, in case you have a slow connection).


4 Responses

  1. I read about a study on this well over a year ago, and I am appalled that they keep touting it as a good thing. It is now in so many formulas, and parents just assume that if it is in formula it is good for their babies! No one would put anything bad in something for babies right? It just breaks my heart that these companies care so little about human lives.

  2. What about the vitamins for pregnant moms? I have been prescribed DHA suppliments that are oil…not sure if it’s fish oil or artificial DHA.

    I do know my bowel system is sometimes off as well as morning sickness lasted until about week 15-16…and I still sometimes am unsettled.

    • Check out the manufacturer of the vitamins/supplements and see if you can find out online whether they use natural or algae-manufactured DHA; if you can’t find out, you may have to call them to see. Actually, first call your pharmacy and have them look at the package insert (if you can’t find it online), because that will probably say how the DHA was derived.

      When looking for more information, I saw some vitamins proclaim that they were “vegan”, which probably means that the DHA was derived from algae, as opposed to animal sources (fish, primarily, although eggs have some; the Wikipedia article notes that eggs and cattle have less DHA than they used to, because the animals aren’t fed normal diets, but cattle, for example, are fed grain prior to slaughtering). Another website pitched the artificially derived DHA by saying that it avoided potential contaminants that may be in fish.

      However, other foods (such as flax seed, walnuts and soybeans, as well as animal sources including many types of fish and other seafood) can give you the building blocks for DHA, which your body can manufacture the way nature intended.

  3. Wow, I had no idea, I’m one of those parents that just thought the DHA AND ARA, were good for my baby, and then i was at a site called, trying to find better prices for formula, and was reading feedback on the formula w/out DHA&ARA, and read lots of comments about it being made from algae and fungus …. EWWWW, that’s really gross, I breast fed for 6 months and had to stop, went to a milk based formula, and my baby girl and constant acid diarrhea, so they said she was lactose intolerant, but i was confused, because I thought that if she did have this, she would have gas , throw up, cramping too, but now I’m wondering if it was an allergy to the DHA & ARA , She’s on soy now , but her BM’s are still a little runny, I think I’m going to try the GOOD START NOURISH, W/OUT DHA & ARA, I was not very happy with her being on soy anyway. Thank you for this very helpful info, I will spread the word.

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