Evidence-Based Nutrient Recommendations

Evolutionary Arguments for DHA

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by Jack Norris, RD, LD

We’ve added two appendices to our article, Omega-3s Part 2: Research:

Without DHA supplementation, vegans have lower levels of DHA in their blood than fish eaters. Much of our article, Omega-3s Part 2: Research, is an attempt to assess whether there’s a clinical significance to these lower levels.

In Appendix A, we added a short section evaluating the citations for one paper in particular. The article Biomarkers of DHA status argues that the percentage of fatty acids as DHA in plasma or red blood cells is a generally adequate marker of overall DHA status. We show that the evidence they cite for this claim doesn’t adequately support it.

A number of researchers, and many more nutrition writers with an anti-vegan stance, have used evolutionary arguments to argue that DHA is an essential nutrient for human brain health.

In Appendix B, we address evolutionary arguments made in the published research claiming that DHA is an essential nutrient. We conclude that the evidence cited doesn’t justify the claim.

Appendix B: Evolutionary Arguments for a Dietary Requirement for DHA is too long to reproduce in this blog post, but I hope you’ll click through to read it. I’m interested to know what readers of this newsletter think. You can reply to this email or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

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  • If you have a question about whether it's okay to cut supplements in half or combine supplements to achieve the dose we recommend, the answer is “Yes.” Be aware that nutrient recommendations are only estimates—it's not necessary to consume the exact amount we recommend every single day.
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  • We cannot provide personal nutrition advice for specific health conditions. If you need private counseling, here's a list of plant-based dietitians and we especially recommend VeganHealth contributor Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN.
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