There are 3 different sources that can be used for DHA and ARA in formulas – fish oil, egg yolk lipids, and microalgal oils for DHA and fungal oils for ARA.
Fish Oil: Because studies have shown that preterm babies supplemented with fish oil weighed less at various times during the first year of life compared to babies given a formula without the supplemental fish oil, fish oils have not yet been used as a source of DHA in formulas. 1
Egg Yolk Phospholipids: Baby’s Only Organic® Dairy with DHA & ARA Formula source of DHA and ARA is derived from egg yolk phospholipids, a safe and natural source of these fatty acids. Nature’s One has chosen to use egg phospholipids over life’sDHA™ algal oils because it is a phospholipid and not a hexane processed triglyceride.
The use of egg phospholipids in human nutrition, especially pediatric nutrition, has been widely studied. It is well understood that phospholipids form smaller droplets and are more easily absorbed in the intestinal tract and offer greater bioavailability than fungal or fish oils (triglycerides). Research suggests that the addition of phospholipids to formulas is desirable due to their important role in human milk. The phospholipids contained in breast milk are rich sources of DHA and ARA. However, formulas contain high levels of triglycerides formulated with vegetable oil blends (sunflower/safflower, coconut & soy oil), but are void of phospholipids. Knowing formula already provides abundant triglycerides, Nature's One believes adding a phospholipid to formula achieves a fatty acid profile more similar to breast milk; rather than adding more triglycerides as found in Martek's life’sDHA oils.
Algal & Fungal Oils: In 2001, US formula manufacturers began adding a novel source of DHA and ARA that is manufactured by Martek Biosciences Corporation and branded as life’sDHA™. Martek’s scientists published reports on these novel fatty acids and identified them as being triglycerides. 2, 3 The following is the manufacturing process described by Martek: “The oil is then separated from the dried biomass by hexane extraction and centrifugation and/or filtration, followed by winterization. The hexane phase undergoes additional centrifugation/filtration to remove solids then the winterized oil is heated and treated with acid. Subsequently, the oil is treated with caustic, centrifuged, bleached and deodorized.” 4
Nature’s One® has never added life’sDHA™ to any of its formulas. This is because harsh toxic chemicals, like hexane solvent, are used to extract life’sDHA™ oils and the processing involves genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMO refers to an organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered by the insertion of a modified gene or a gene from another organism using the techniques of genetic engineering. Nature’s One® believes these ingredients have no place in any organic products, especially one designed for babies and young children. Therefore, unlike competing sources of DHA & ARA commonly used in formula, Nature’s One® uses a manufacturing process that is completely free of hexane solvents and does not use materials or components derived from GMOs at any stage in the production process.
The non-profit organization, The Cornucopia Institute, has reviewed in detail the controversy surrounding algal and fungal sources of DHA and ARA along with reports of some adverse effects on babies when fed formulas containing life’sDHA™. The entire Cornucopia Institute’s report can be found at www.cornucopia.org
1. Carlson, SE, Cooke, RJ, Werkman, SH et al. “First year growth of preterm infants fed standard compared to marine oil n-3 supplemented formula,” Lipids. 1992; 27:901-907
2. Arterburn LM, Boswell KD, Koskelo E, et al. “A combined subchronic (90-day) toxicity and neurotoxicity study of a single-cell source of docosahexaenoic acid triglyceride (DHASCO oil),” Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2000; 38(1):35-49.
3. Arterburn LM, Boswell KD, Lawlor T, et al. “In vitro genotoxicity testing of ARASCO and DHASCO oils,” Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2000; 38(11):971-976.
4. Sam Zeller, Ph.D.; Martek Biosciences Corporation, Food & Drug Administration Agency Response Letter, GRAS Notice No. GRN 000137