Is it true that DHA supplementation can make babies smarter and see better?
I heard that DHA can make children smarter, and many parents spare no effort to supplement it in order not to let their children lose at the starting line.
So, is DHA considered an IQ tax, can it really make babies smart?
1. What exactly is DHA?
The full name of DHA is docosahexaenoic acid, which is an unsaturated fatty acid and belongs to a type of fat.
We know that fat, like protein and carbohydrates, can not only provide the human body with necessary energy, but also help the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, absorb shock for organs, bring good taste to food, and more importantly, promote the development of organs such as the brain.
DHA is of more interest because it is an important component of brain synapses, accounting for 20% of the human cerebral cortex and is closely related to brain development.
In addition, DHA accounts for the largest proportion in the retina of the eye, accounting for about 50%, which is mainly involved in the metabolism of the optic nerve, protects the retina, improves the sensitivity of the retina to light, and plays an important role in visual function.
In short, DHA is an important ingredient necessary for the development of the baby's brain, and plays a pivotal role in the development of the baby's brain nerves and vision. Therefore, DHA is known as "brain gold", "smart factor", "brain nutrition" and so on.
Since it is so important, is it possible to supplement more DHA to make the baby smarter?
2. Can DHA supplementation make babies smarter?
I believe that many mothers have this idea and have done so.
But in fact, the child's intellectual development is related to many factors, the largest proportion is genetics, and some factors are acquired, such as the ten months in the mother's womb, and the two years after birth, these time periods are critical periods for the development of the child's brain.
According to statistics, from 3 weeks of pregnancy, the baby's brain has begun to develop rapidly. At the age of 2, the volume of the brain can reach 80%~90% of that of adults, so that after the age of 2, the cell differentiation of the brain is basically mature, and the myelination is basically completed, and the demand for DHA will be reduced, so these stages need to supplement the brain with sufficient DHA. If there is a long-term lack of DHA, it will affect the development of the baby's cranial nerve and optic nerve.
Is it true that the more you make up, the smarter your baby will be?
The answer is no.
A study published in the 2022 international authoritative journal "New England Journal of Medicine" showed that for preterm infants born before 29 weeks of gestation, DHA supplementation will have a higher intelligence score at age 5 than preterm infants without supplementation, but for full-term infants, no higher performance has been found.
There are more studies that show that supplementing enough DHA can effectively improve the baby's visual acuity, but there is no obvious benefit when supplementing more.
In other words, no matter how good DHA is, it is only a nutrient, and the lack of it will affect the child's development, but supplementing too much will not make the child smarter, and the older the child, the smaller the impact.
3. How much is it appropriate to make up?
Studies have found that 0.32% of DHA in total fatty acids is sufficient, and a 2x or 3-fold increase in DHA intake has no additional effect.
How do you calculate this amount?
According to the Expert Consensus on DHA Supplementation for Pregnant Women and Infants in China, pregnant and lactating women should consume no less than 200 mg of DHA per day, while infants and young children need to consume 100 mg of DHA per day.
In 2022, a domestic study of 171 lactating mothers found that if the daily intake of DHA by breastfeeding mothers can reach the recommended amount (200 mg), or even if it is less, the daily DHA content in the milk secreted is higher than the recommended amount (100 mg) that the baby needs per day.
In other words, in the case of breastfeeding, the baby does not need to take additional DHA, and breast milk can meet daily needs.
If it is a baby fed with milk powder, according to the mainland's "Standard for the Use of Food Nutrition Enhancers", the content of DHA in formula milk powder should account for about 0.5% of the total fatty acid ratio, which is also sufficient for the baby and does not need additional supplementation.
Babies who begin to add complementary foods can get DHA from complementary foods, such as eggs, fish, animal liver, seafood, etc., all contain DHA, which can meet the needs of babies.
DHA content of common aquatic products
Of course, there will be some special circumstances, such as the baby's allergy to eggs, or there is no way to eat enough fish, etc., which can also be replaced by DHA preparations. Of course, we recommend that the first supplement method is dietary supplements.
Finally, in fact, not only DHA, every nutritional element plays an important role in the baby's growth and development, only by allowing the baby to achieve a balanced diet, can we really ensure that the baby grows strong, smart and smart.