Ingredient Series – Fats: DHA and ARA

Posted 3.30.10 | Mallory West

Last week for our Ingredient Series, Christine wrote about the fats in Neocate. In this post, I’ll expand on that and explain DHA and ARA in more detail.

As you may know, the Neocate Infant formula is available in the original formulation and the updated formulation, which contains DHA and ARA.

Docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid, better known as DHA and ARA, are types of fats (lipids) called long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (often abbreviated as “PUFAs”). DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid and ARA is an omega-6 fatty acid.

These fatty acids are found naturally in human breast milk and several other foods. Fish, especially cold water fish, have very high amounts of DHA. Eggs are also a natural source of DHA, but to a lesser degree than fish. ARA is found mostly in animal products, such as eggs, meat and fish.

It has been known for many years that long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (DHA and ARA in particular) accumulate in the brain and eye of the fetus during gestation, especially during the last trimester of pregnancy.[1] More recent studies show that DHA and ARA may play an important role for brain and eye development during infancy as well.[2] Breast-fed infants receive DHA and ARA from their moms and studies show that breast-fed infants typically have higher blood levels of DHA and ARA in comparison to infants fed formulas without DHA and ARA. For this reason, and because of the important role DHA and ARA are thought to play with brain and eye development, many infant formulas are now fortified with DHA and ARA to more closely resemble the intake of breast-fed infants.

The DHA and ARA found in Neocate Infant with DHA and ARA are vegetarian. The source of DHA is C. Cohnii oil and the source of ARA is M. Alpina oil.

So now when you see the “DHA and ARA” banner on your can of Neocate (if you use the Neocate Infant with DHA and ARA), you’ll know exactly what it means!

We hope you found our Ingredient Series helpful. If you are curious about anything else in Neocate please ask us in the comments!


[1] FDA/CFSAN Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements July 2002
Alan S. Ryan, James D. Astwood, Sheila Gautier, Connye N. Kuratko, Edward B. Nelson, Norman Salem . Effects of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on neurodevelopment in childhood: A review of human studies. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids - 26 February 2010 (10.1016/j.plefa.2010.02.007

Read Comments (4)

  • 2016-01-21 | Sarah F

    Do you use hexane in processing your DHA/AHA?

  • 2016-01-21 | Nutrition Specialist

    Good question Sarah. Martek, the company that produces the oils that are sources of DHA and ARA used in Neocate, provides these oils for almost every infant formula in the world. Martek’s standard practices remove traces of hexane in oils. Testing by an independent third party confirms that there are no detectable levels in the oils. The techniques Martek uses to produce its oils are similar to the processes used to produce common vegetable oils found in many of the most common food products in America, not just infant formula. Virtually every product that includes standard vegetable oils as an ingredient.
      Hope this helps!

  • 2016-01-21 | Sarah

    Thank you for the clarification. My GI specialist gave us a can of Neocate to trial but stated sometimes children who are sensitive to dairy/soy don’t tolerate corn well either. I appreciate that your solids are derived from non-GMO corn, but 45% corn syrup solids as a base of nutrition obviously concerns me. Corn is one of the least nutritious foods out there as a carbohydrate and our bodies generally have no use for it. It’s not absorbable. Can you please help me understand the rationale behind this? I’m torn between trialing Neocate and making my own formula. I just really hate the idea of giving her formula based on 45% corn syrup solids.
    Thanks again,

  • 2016-01-22 | Nutrition Specialist

    Hi Sarah,
      While whole corn is a source of nutrients, we only use corn syrup solids as a source of carbohydrates, which are essential for life, and because they are relatively easy to digest and absorb. You can read more here:

Leave a Comment  Read our Comments & Trackbacks Policy before submitting a comment.

Required fields *

About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.