With vegan intakes of EPA and DHA typically being zero and serum levels low, an important question arises: Can vegans sufficiently convert parent fatty acids, LA and LNA to longer chain fatty acids or do they need a direct dietary source?
While conversoin of LA to AA (two essential fatty acids) is rarely a problem for vegans, conversion of LNA to EPA and DHA (three other essential fatty acids) is far less efficient, with rates shown in the chart to the right (chart not included, but you get the idea). DHA consumed directly from microalgae can be converted back to EPA from DHA.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is not converted to eicosanoids (umm?) but is an important structural component of the gray matter of the brain, the retina of the eye, and specific cell membranes, and is found in high levels in the testes and sperm. Low levels of DHA have been associated with several neurological and behavioral disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is also linked to reduced visual and brain development in infants.
...and another subject never collected the baseline breast-milk samples...
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