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Omega 3

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, with 18 carbon atoms and three double bonds. It is an ‘essential’ nutrient, meaning it must be supplied in the diet as it cannot be made in the body from other fats.  To ensure normal growth and development of children it is important that a child’s diet contains adequate intakes of energy and all essential nutrients including ALA.  

ALA is also known to play an important contribution to brain and nervous system development in infants and young children.  ALA is the parent fatty acid of the longer chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, including DHA (see ‘Why LCPs are important’), which is the major structural fatty acid in brain tissue and the central nervous system.  Dietary deficiency of ALA results in adverse clinical symptoms including neurological abnormalities and poor growth.  

An adequate daily intake for ALA of 0.5% energy was proposed by EFSA in 2010 .  ALA is found mostly in seeds e.g. flaxseeds, vegetable oils e.g. rapeseed oil, and leafy green vegetables.  All HiPP organic milk formulas and some of the weaning foods contain added ALA (from organic rapeseed oil), and the infant milks also contain the omega 3 longer chain fatty acid DHA (from fish and vegetable oils).