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Fortified Juice Boost Kids’ Omega-3 Levels

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Parents looking for alternatives to fish for boosting healthy omega-3 fats in children might want to use fortified juice. A new study found that orange juice fortified with the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was able to raise blood levels of DHA in 31 four- to 12-year olds who drank the juice for six weeks.

The findings indicate that souped-up juice is one effective way to deliver the fatty acid, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. What’s still unclear, they say, is whether there are health benefits to doing so.

DHA is one of the essential fatty acids, meaning the human body does not synthesize it and it must be consumed through food. DHA is abundant in the brain and retina, and is believed to play an important role in early brain and eye development.

Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids. But as many parents know, with the exception of breaded fish sticks, which are not made from omega-3-rich fatty fish, children tend to shy away from eating fish.

The lead researcher of the study, Keli M. Hawthorne from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston says it is important to find kid-friendly alternatives. The study was funded by the Coca-Cola Company, which provided DHA-enriched orange juice for the study.

“Fortifying juice with DHA is a realistic approach to helping children increase the amount of DHA in their diet,” said Hawthorne.

Hawthorne said parents who are concerned that their children are not getting enough DHA could try juice or other foods enriched with fatty acid.

“Although we are still not certain what the direct health benefits are in children,” she said, “it is clear that most children do not meet the recommended guidelines for fish intake that would provide DHA.”

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