Knowledge of the health benefits of DHA omega 3 among US parents is low, with a majority unaware of its role in the development of their children's heart, brain and eyes, according to functional food company Stremicks Heritage.
A survey by the supplier of omega 3 enriched milk drinks found that 68% of American parents quizzed did not know what the general benefits of omega 3 were.
And fewer than one in five people understood the importance of the nutrient to a newborn (18%) or infant (18%). Even fewer knew that omega-3 DHA was important to the health of toddlers (16%) and preschool-aged children (14%).
Nearly three quarters (72%) of the survey respondents said they made a conscious effort to include certain vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin C and calcium, in their child's daily diet. But only 7% said they were consciously including omega-3 DHA.
Experts believe DHA omega-3 fatty acid is important for brain and eye development and function. Many health authorities and pediatricians recommend an intake of about 150mg of DHA omega 3 a day for children. The average US child, aged from one to five years old, has been shown to have a DHA intake of just 20-30mg a day.
"Our survey makes it clear that parents need to understand the importance of DHA, and how to easily get the nutrient into their children's diets to ensure optimal growth and development," said Sam Stremick, director of sales and marketing for Stremicks Heritage Foods.
"Most American children consume less than optimal levels of DHA primarily because the foods that naturally contain DHA are organ meats and fatty fish, which are not generally liked by young children. In addition, picky and unbalanced eating habits, as well as food allergies make it difficult for parents to ensure their children are obtaining optimal levels of DHA."