The major dietary source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is fish, which is not widely consumed by children. There is concern, therefore, that children may not receive adequate DHA and so might benefit from dietary supplementation. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of providing a supplement of microencapsulated algal DHA in juice.

We assessed the effects of two levels of DHA supplementation on the plasma phospholipid DHA content of healthy 4- to 6-year-old and 7- to 12-year-old children who were randomly assigned to consume 180 mL juice containing either 50 mg (lower dose) or 100 mg (higher dose) DHA daily for 6 weeks. Plasma phospholipid DHA content (mole % of total fatty acids) was measured before and after 6 weeks of daily juice consumption. Because there are no data for plasma phospholipid DHA content in healthy children, data were compared to that of breastfed infants. At baseline, plasma phospholipid DHA content was lower in both age groups and dose groups than observed in breastfed infants.

It increased significantly in both dose groups, but more so in the higher dose group of both age groups (P<0.05, overall mean+/-standard deviation: 3.72+/-0.66 vs 4.64+/-0.77); reaching levels similar to or greater than content of breastfed infants.

Thus, DHA supplementation of juice at either 50 mg/day or 100 mg/day for 6 weeks was effective in increasing plasma phospholipid DHA contents of children.

keywords: children, nutritional status - docosahexaenoic acid, dha, orange juice, algal dha