DHA, EPA & ARA - Essential fatty acids

Docosahexenoic Acid (DHA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Arachidonic Acid (ARA) are essential fatty acids required for early development. DHA and ARA are specifically important for the formation of the brain and eyes.


Benefits of DHA, EPA & ARA

Naturally high in DHA

Additional source of EPA

Premium source of ARA

How do they work ?

  • DHA and EPA are essential omega-3 fats that need to be supplied to the developing infant and toddler for brain and eye development. They support the delicate membranes of the retina and the brain’s network of developing nerve pathways, including the processes of synaptogenesis and myelination.
  • ARA is an essential omega-6 fatty acid that required alongside DHA, because both fatty acids accumulate in the brain after birth and in the first 1-2 year of life1.
  • All three fats also work in the immune system and all other parts of the body to support new cells and tissues to form and function properly. Every cell in the body uses fats, including omega-3’s, to create their thin membranes that encapsulate them and holds tissues together.
  • These fatty acids are also an important component of blood cells, including the red ones which oxygenate the tissues, and the white ones, which form part of the immune system.

What does the research say?

Breastmilk contains all three fatty acids. The infant brain builds up stores of DHA and ARA from late pregnancy (through the placenta) and over the first 24 month (via breast milk).

Both DHA and ARA have been measured in breastmilk from around the world, and the level average out to be 0.32% (for DHA) and 0.43% (for ARA)2, as a percent of the total breastmilk fatty acids. During early newborn life, DHA is higher and starts to reduce slowly as breastfeeding slows down3

DHA and EPA are both required, not just DHA alone, to support effective transport across the placenta and is present in the infant’s body systems after birth4.

DHA and ARA intake have been directly associated with improved visual acuity and cognitive function5. In one report, 0.36% DHA in combination with ARA has been shown to result in improved cognitive ability, including vocabulary and verbal IQ at age 5 years (figure)6.


Improvement in cognitive function with DHA & ARA