How to get dha

The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA support brain and heart function, maintain vision, improve mood, and control inflammation. Here’s what to look for (and what to avoid) when shopping for vegetarian supplements.

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“DHA and EPA affect every cell, every tissue, every organ in the body and cannot be replaced by other nutrients,” says Richard Passwater, PhD, co-author with Jørn Dyerberg, MD, of The Missing Wellness Factors: EPA and DHA. The omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid—better known as DHA and EPA, respectively—support brain and heart function, maintain vision, improve mood, and control inflammation. Yet only 25 percent of the population consumes either of these vital fats on a given day, and even then the average intake is far below recommended amounts.

Power Source

The body can convert alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 found in flaxseed oil and walnuts, into DHA and EPA, but not efficiently. So, vegetarians should look to get DHA and EPA from supplements made from microalgae, which is the ultimate source of the omega-3s in fish and fish oil supplements. According to a report in Current Diabetes Reviews, getting omega-3s from either fish or microalgae oils results in increased circulation of both DHA and EPA and protection against cardiovascular risk. For a bonus, supplement makers often use sustainable microalgae grown in controlled environments, which avoids ocean-borne contamination as well as toxins such as the mercury found in fish.

Use It Right

“For healthy vegans and vegetarians, Dr. Dyerberg and I recommend supplementing with at least 200 to 300 milligrams combined total DHA and EPA and preferably up to 1,000 milligrams combined total,” says Passwater. “Where certain diseases like arthritis are present, up to 3,000 milligrams is suggested.”

Watch Out For

No adverse effects are associated with recommended doses. But do consult your health care provider if you take blood thinners or blood pressure medications.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for maintaining heart and brain health. But you don’t need to turn to fish—or fish oil supplements—to get your omega-3s. Keep reading to get the answers to frequently asked questions about omega-3s and plant-based diets!

What are omega-3s?

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids. They play an important role in cellular function and in maintaining heart health, brain health, kidney function, eye health, and skin health.

Are omega-3s found in plant foods?

Omega-3 fatty acids are readily available in a wide variety of plant foods. Sources include walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, edamame, seaweed, and algae. Other green leafy vegetables and beans also contain small amounts.

Are plant-based omega-3 sources different from fish-based sources?

Plant-derived omega-3s come in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—which is the only essential omega-3 fatty acid. Our bodies cannot synthesize it, so we must consume ALA through our diets. The body naturally converts ALA into longer chain omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—which is important for brain health—and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Fish contain both DHA and EPA. But that doesn’t mean that those following plant-based diets are deficient in these longer chain omega-3s. In fact, women following vegan diets actually had significantly more long-chain omega-3 fats in their blood, compared with fish-eaters, meat-eaters, and ovo-lacto vegetarians, according to findings from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study. Despite zero intake of long-chain omega-3s (EPA and DHA) and lower intake of the plant-derived ALA, vegan participants converted robust amounts of shorter-chain fatty acids into these long-chain fatty acids, compared to fish eaters.

Do people eating plant-based diets have adequate omega-3 levels?

Most people following plant-based diets have no problem getting enough omega-3s in their diets. One study found that people who follow vegan diets, on average, have intakes above the recommended amounts for omega-3 fats.

When it comes to measuring omega-3 levels, the likelihood of having lower EPA and DHA levels among vegans is, on average, higher; however, this does not extend to any known clinical relevance. In fact, researchers note the advantage of a vegan diet for heart health compared with nonvegans.

Is a plant-based diet healthy for the brain?

Plant-based foods are beneficial to the brain and may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Research shows that saturated and trans fats—found in animal products, pastries, and fried foods—can increase the risk for cognitive decline. Foods rich in vitamin E—including nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains—are especially beneficial for brain health. Studies have also suggested that vitamin C—found in fruits and vegetables—may help protect against cognitive decline.

Is fish consumption heart-healthy?

Although some of the fat found in fish comes in the healthy omega-3 form, much of the remaining fat is unhealthful saturated fat. For example, chinook salmon derives 52% of its calories from fat, a quarter of which is saturated fat. Fish and shellfish are also significant sources of cholesterol. Three ounces of bass has about 80 milligrams of cholesterol—the same amount found in a 3-ounce steak. Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol can increase the risk for heart disease.

On the other hand, a plant-based diet has been proven to prevent, and even reverse, heart disease. A recent study found that while replacing red meat with plant-based protein lowers the risk for heart disease, replacing red meat with fish did not reduce the risk.

What about fish oil supplements?

Although fish oil supplements have been touted as a cure for everything from heart problems to arthritis, current research shows that there may not be any benefits to taking the supplement. According to a review that combined data from 20 studies, the use of omega-3 supplements over a two-year period had no effect on heart-related death, heart attack, or stroke. Another study found no link between fish oil supplements and the prevention or improvement of dementia.

By focusing on plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, you’ll get the full range of essential nutrients without the toxins and other health risks associated with fish consumption!

When you buy fish oil you will notice different companies tout how much DHA or EPA their product has. While both are beneficial, you may want to consider the unique properties of each to address different aspects of health. EPA has anti-inflammatory effects while DHA is known for boosting brain health.

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid and EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid. Both are omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, black cod, and bluefish. A vegetarian source of omega 3 is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body may convert to EPA and DHA. Dietary sources include walnuts and flax seed. However, some people have trouble converting ALAs to beneficial forms of omega 3, particularly if insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) is an issue. Eating a diet high in omega-6 fats, those found in chips, fried foods, processed foods, and restaurant foods, may also hinder this conversion.

DHA supports brain health

Most fish oil supplements have a one to one ratio of DHA to EPA. If your goal is to dampen or prevent inflammation—aches, pain, swelling—then standard fish oils or a fish oil with more EPA may be desirable. However, if you want to improve brain function, then consider a fish oil with a higher concentration of DHA. A higher DHA ratio can support issues such as depression, mood swings, bipolar symptoms, or poor memory. Although some fish oils offer a 4 to 1 ratio of EPA to DHA, some products go as high as 10 to 1 or even 24 to 1. Ask my office for a good source of DHA-rich oil.

How DHA helps the brain

DHA is an important building block in the brain. It improves how fluid and flexible neurons are and enhances communication between neurons. When neurons are healthier and communicate better with each other, overall brain function improves. DHA has been shown to reduce brain degeneration, improve short and long term memory, reduce brain inflammation (which can cause brain fog), and improve quality of life.

How much fish oil should you take

Dosage recommendations seem to increase with each new study, perhaps because Americans continue to eat so poorly and are becoming less healthy.

One study recommends 3,500 mg for a person eating 2,000 calories per day. So if you eat 3,000 calories then you should take at least 5,250 mg of omega-3 oils daily.

This is important to realize because the average EFA capsule is only 1,000 mg, meaning many people should take at least 5 to 6 capsules of fish oil a day, versus the standard two to three. If you are on a blood-thinning medication talk to your doctor first as fish oil helps thin the blood.

Reduce consumption of omega 6 fatty acids to boost effects of DHA and EPA

To maximize the effect of your fish oil supplement, limit your intake of omega 6 fatty acids. Although we need omega 6 fatty acids, the average American eats far too much in relation to omega 3 oils. Foods high in omega 6 include fried foods, partially hydrogenated fats, and processed vegetable oils. Healthier fats can be found in cold water fish, olive oil, avocados, and raw nuts and seeds.

We all need some fat in our diets. A couple of fats are classed as essential because our bodies cannot make them. The essential omega-3 fat is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The essential omega-6 fat is called linoleic acid (LA). Omega-3 and omega-6 fats affect our immune system, brain, nerves and eyes.

If you are eating a varied and balanced plant-based diet, it is likely that you are consuming good sources of LA on a regular basis. These include hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and soya spread. However, eating enough ALA may require more planning.

How can vegans get enough omega-3 fat?

Include good sources of ALA in your daily diet, such as chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds and walnuts, and use vegetable (rapeseed) oil as your main cooking oil. To meet the ALA recommendations of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), you would need to eat about a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground linseed, two tablespoons of hemp seeds or six walnut halves daily.

It’s all about balance

Getting the right balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats is important. Your body can make ALA into other omega-3 fats, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). However, if you eat a lot of LA, your body may convert less ALA into EPA and DHA, reducing the amount of omega-3 fat in your blood. There are some simple ways to help your body make ALA into EPA and DHA:

  • Use vegetable (rapeseed) oil instead of oils containing a lot of LA, such as sunflower, corn or sesame oils
  • Limit servings of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds to around 30g (¼ cup)

What about omega-3 fat supplements?

The FAO and EFSA suggest a long-chain omega-3 fat (EPA and DHA) intake of 250 milligrams per day for adults. Vegans consume almost none of these fats from natural sources. It is possible to supplement a vegan diet with EPA and DHA from microalgae, which may be a particularly important consideration for infants and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to the role of omega-3 fat in brain health. However, we require more research into how supplementation affects the health of vegans.

Another option is to increase your intake of ALA, which may boost the amount of omega-3 fat in your blood. Some experts suggest that vegans should eat double the recommended amount of ALA. For instance, you could include both a tablespoon of ground linseed and six walnut halves in your daily diet.

Take-away tips

  • Make sure that your daily diet includes good sources of ALA, such as chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds and walnuts
  • Consider using vegetable (rapeseed) oil as your main cooking oil
  • Supplementation with omega-3 fats from microalgae may be a particularly important consideration for infants and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to the role of omega-3 fats in brain health (please discuss the use of supplements with a health professional).

Want to know more? Read our PDF.

You can compare your diet to our guidelines using the free VNutrition app.

These are general guidelines about nutrition. If you have concerns about your diet, please talk to your doctor about seeing a dietitian. Discussing the use of supplements with a health professional will help to ensure that they are suitable for you.

Since you’re here.

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Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT, has studied nutrition for almost two decades. She was named an emerging leader in women's health by the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Marley Hall is a writer and fact checker who is certified in clinical and translational research. Her work has been published in medical journals in the field of surgery, and she has received numerous awards for publication in education.

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Key Takeaways

  • DHA and EPA are omega-3 fatty acids important to our health, yet many Americans are not meeting the daily recommended intake.
  • Omega-3s are naturally found in oily fish. For those who avoid fish products, a newly-created genetically modified source of DHA and EPA offers similar effects on plasma levels as fish oil.
  • A non-fish alternative can help people who do not consume fish reap the health benefits of omega-3s.

According to a new study, genetically modified plants might be able to help you get omega-3 fatty acids in your diet if you do not eat fish.

People avoid fish and fish-based products for reasons such as taste, contamination concerns, cost, availability, and sustainability. However, fish—especially fatty fish like salmon and tuna—are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids, which offer many health benefits.

Based on a study including almost 15,000 Americans, many U.S. adults are not getting enough omega-3s in their diets.  

Researchers have created an oil from a transgenic (genetically modified) plant that produces the key fatty acids by genetically inserting certain enzymes into plants. The result is a product called C. sativa oil.

The researchers published an update about their novel genetically modified oil in the journal Nutrition Bulletin in December 2020.  

As Good As Fish Oil?

The researchers conducted a clinical trial to evaluate whether the consumption of the C. sativa oil provides similar plasma levels of the fatty acids as consuming fish oil.

In a double-blind, cross-over trial, the researchers gave test meals to a group of healthy people. Some of the meals contained omega-3 fatty acids (450 mg EPA + DHA) from either C. sativa oil and the others used commercial blended fish oil.  

“Based on the study results, the transgenic C. sativa oil is just as effective as fish oil as an omega-3 supplement in terms of bioavailability, incorporation into blood lipids, and accumulation in plasma lipids,” Colleen Woods, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and owner of tells Verywell. “It is also as well tolerated as fish oil, and may be more palatable.”

Other studies with a similar design have also yielded positive results.   The new creation could be a welcomed alternative to fish and fish oil for people who would prefer to avoid these products.

Concerns About GMOs

Woods says that a potential issue with a non-fish DHA and EPA solution would be for people who are concerned about the unknown long-term effects of consuming genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

However, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has found no substantiated evidence that foods from genetically modified crops are less safe than foods from non-genetically modified crops.

The Health Benefits of Omega 3s

The human body can synthesize certain nutrients that we need, meaning that we don't have to get them through our diet. These nutrients are called non-essential because we do not have to consume them to meet our body's needs.

Essential nutrients, on the other hand, are nutrients that your body needs to function but cannot make on its own. That means we have to consume them to maintain our health.

DHA and EPA Omega-3 Fatty Acids

There are two omega-3 fatty acids that are key to health: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The body can synthesize small amounts of these fatty acids, but not enough to meet the body’s needs. That’s why we need to consume omega-3s in our diet through food or supplements.

Omega-3s are mostly found in marine sources or fish oil supplements, but some foods like eggs are also fortified with them. Oily fish like salmon and tuna are key dietary sources of omega-3s.

The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) recommend eating fish two to three times a week to get the benefits of these fatty acids.

DHA and EPA are not technically considered to be essential, but we need to include them in our diet because the body cannot synthesize enough to meet its needs.

Who Needs Omega 3s?

We all need omega-3 fatty acids to support our body's functioning, but some groups of people in certain health situations need them even more.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that people with coronary heart disease get approximately 1 gram of EPA plus DHA omega-3 fatty acids a day. Pregnant people need omega-3 fatty acids to support fetal brain and eye development.

Getting enough omega-3s also offers preventative health benefits. “Consumption of adequate amounts of DHA and/or EPA are also linked to reduced risk of depression, migraine relief, and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” Brittany Scanniello, RD, a Colorado-based registered dietitian tells Verywell.

Limited Supply, Increased Demand

There is a need for an alternative source of these fatty acids that offer similar health benefits. Marine sources of EPA and DHA are decreasing as the demand for them increases, and some people avoid fish or fish products for other reasons.

“EPA and DHA production from seed oils is appealing as a source for fish farm feeding and direct use in humans, as most Americans are not getting enough long-chain omega-3s in their diets,” Tom Brenna, PhD, professor of human nutrition a University of Texas at Austin, tells Verywell.

A Solution for All?

If you follow a vegan lifestyle, can’t tolerate fish or fish oil supplements, or have other concerns about seafood intake, you'll benefit from having a non-fish way to meet your body's need for omega-3s. However, if you can include fish in your diet, doing so offers benefits that no pill can match.

"Seafood is not only the best dietary source of EPA and DHA; it is a whole package of essential nutrients including selenium, iron, zinc, and complete proteins that support growth, development, and maintenance of good health,” Brenna says.

How to get dha

Like fish, fish oil provides two omega-3 fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Research shows that these polyunsaturated fatty acids help to support your baby’s brain and eye development. But do you need to take a fish oil or another omega-3 supplement during pregnancy? Here’s what you need to know.

DHA in pregnancy

Because DHA is so beneficial for a baby’s brain and eye development, most experts recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women aim to have at least 200 mg of DHA daily.

The best way to ensure you and your baby get the DHA you need is by eating a variety of low-mercury fish. But if fish isn’t a regular part of your diet, you can look for another source. Some prenatal vitamins have the recommended 200 mg of DHA. Or, you could take fish oil or another separate omega-3 supplement.

Fish oil during pregnancy

Fish oil is in many omega-3 supplements because it contains DHA and EPA. Benefits of fish oil (and other omega-3 supplements) during pregnancy may include:

  • small benefits in child cognitive development
  • reduced risk of preterm delivery (before week 37 of pregnancy) and early preterm delivery (before week 34 of pregnancy)
  • reduced risk of babies born at a low birth weight or admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
  • a reduced risk for moms of depression in pregnancy and postpartum

However, these are not at all guaranteed. It’s not clear that supplements provide the same great benefits during pregnancy as eating fish and other seafood, which is why experts say it’s better to try and get your omega-3s from food sources first.

Is it safe to take fish oil or other omega-3 supplements during pregnancy?

Yes, it’s safe to take fish oil and other omega-3 supplements during pregnancy – they are purified of environmental toxins like mercury.

You can find omega-3 supplements in liquid, soft chews, and soft gel form. Check to be sure the supplement is third-party certified by an independent lab, such as, NSF International, or U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Because the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t test whether supplements are pure or contain the amount of nutrients listed on the label, third-party certification helps ensure that any omega-3 supplement brand you choose is safe and high-quality.

Also keep in mind that while cod liver oil is a good source of DHA, you need to avoid it during pregnancy. That’s because cod liver oil contains a type of vitamin A that can cause birth defects, especially when consumed during the first trimester.

Other good sources of omega-3s in pregnancy

Eggs and chicken also contain small amounts of DHA. And although some plant foods (such as walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil, and soybeans) are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, they contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) but not DHA. The body can convert ALA into DHA, but only in very limited amounts.

Other DHA supplements are derived from algae. In fact, the omega-3 found in fish actually comes from the algae they eat. Algal supplements have no mercury and no fishy aftertaste, plus they’re appropriate for vegetarians and vegans.


BabyCenter’s editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you’re seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat the body cannot make on its own. They are an essential fat, which means they are needed to survive. We get the omega-3 fatty acids we need from the foods we eat.

What are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids?

Fish are the best food source of omega-3 fatty acids. Some plants also contain omega-3 fatty acids.

What do EPA, DHA and ALA mean?

There are two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids in fish — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The form of omega-3 in plants is called alpha-linolenic (ALA).

How do omega-3 Fatty Acids help improve my health?

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can improve your cardiovascular health. Most of this research involves EPA + DHA, but ALA can also help improve your health. Benefits of including omega-3 fatty acids in your diet include:

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduced risk of death if you have cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduced risk of sudden cardiac death caused by an abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Reduced risk of blood clots because omega-3 fatty acids help prevent blood platelets from clumping together.
  • Keeping the lining of the arteries smooth and free of damage that can lead to thick, hard arteries. This helps keep plaque from forming in the arteries.
  • Lowering triglyceride levels by slowing the rate they form in the liver. High levels of triglycerides in the blood increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Less inflammation. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is thought to involve your body's inflammatory response. Omega-3 fatty acids slow production of substances that are released during the inflammatory response.

Omega-3 fatty acids may also:

  • Raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL/“good” cholesterol).
  • Lower blood pressure. People who eat fish tend to have lower blood pressure than those who don’t.

Amount of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Selected Fish and Seafood

  • Mackerel
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 2.5–2.6 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 1.8 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 1.3–2 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 1.2 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 2 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 1.4 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 1.5 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 1.5 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 1.2 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 0.9 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 0.8 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces (100 grams)
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 0.65 grams
    • Serving Size: 3 ounces drained
    • Amount of Omega-3 Fat: 0.5 grams

    *Contains high level of Mercury. Limit amount you eat.

    Source: USDA Food Composition Databases

    How much Omega-3 do I need?

    The American Heart Association recommends that patients who do not have a history of heart disease eat at least 2 servings of fish each week (a total of 6-8 ounces). This should include a variety of fish. Cold-water wild varieties of fish like mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines and herring contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. See the list above to help choose fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

    If you have heart disease, your healthcare professional may recommend that you have one gram of EPA +DHA every day. If you have trouble getting this amount through food alone, talk to your doctor about taking a fish oil supplement.

    If you have high triglyceride levels, you may need to eat more foods that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, even if you take medication to lower your triglyceride levels. Your healthcare provider may also want you to take a fish oil supplement. In general, 2-4 grams of EPA + DHA every day is recommended for patients with high triglyceride levels. This amount has been shown to lower triglyceride levels 25 to 35 percent.

    Can you have too many omega-3 fatty acids?

    Talk to your healthcare provider if you have 3 grams or more of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet each day. High levels of these essential fatty acids can cause bleeding.

    Should I be concerned about mercury in fish?

    Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and as a result of industrial pollution. It falls from the air and can collect in streams and oceans, where it is converted into methylmercury. Too much methylmercury can be harmful. This is especially true for unborn and young children.

    Some fish have higher levels of mercury than others. These include shark, swordfish, tilefish, and King mackerel. Everyone should limit the amounts of these fish in their diet. Women who are pregnant or nursing and young children should not eat these types of fish. Women who are pregnant or nursing can safely eat 12 ounces of other types of fish each week. These include shellfish, canned fish and smaller fish.

    Albacore Tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. Limit the amount of albacore tuna you eat to 6 ounces per week.

    What if I’m allergic to fish or don’t want to eat fish?

    Fish is the best food source of omega-3 fatty acids, but several plants contain ALA. This is not as rich of a source of omega-3 fatty acids, but some studies show that ALA can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Good sources of ALA are ground or milled flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, soy foods and canola oil. Another source of ALA is algae or algae oil, which is broken down to DHA. Many foods that are fortified with omega-3 use algae oil. These are excellent options for vegetarians that do not eat fish.

    There are currently no serving size recommendations for ALA-rich foods. But, adding these foods to your diet regularly may help your heart health.

    Healthcare professionals in Dubai need a DHA license to pursue their career. This healthcare practice licence in Dubai is issued by the Health Regulation Department (HRD) of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Professionals in the healthcare industry must apply for a DHA license and pass the skill test and assessments to obtain one.


    The DHA Health Regulation Department (HRD) is exclusively responsible for licensing healthcare professionals who have the proper skills and qualifications to provide quality healthcare services to residents of Dubai. Professionals from traditional, complementary and alternative medicine who require a DHA license to operate in Dubai include and are not restricted to:

    • Physicians
    • Dentists
    • Nurses/Midwives
    • Allied Healthcare


    The DHA license process is quite long but straightforward. To apply for your medical license in the UAE, here’s what you need to know.


    The first thing to do for your DHA license application is to complete the initial self-assessment. For that

    • Visit the Sheryan self-assessment portal
    • Enter the required information and submit

    Based on the information you provide, the portal will reveal whether you’re eligible to be a part of the Dubai Medical Registry or not.

    If you are, you can move on to the next step. If not, you can opt for the Manual Review of your profile. For the Manual Review you need to:

    • Submit an online application with the required details and documents
    • Pay the fees (AED 200)
    • Await your DHA review, which may take up to 10 days


    Before you formally begin the DHA licensing process, you should create a personal ID on the DHA Sheryan portal.

    • Visit the DHA “Single Sign On” portal
    • Click on “Register New Account”
    • Enter the required information
    • Click “Register”

    You will receive account authentication details via email.


    How to get dha

    Just like anywhere else, the Dubai Health Authority likes to confirm the authenticity of your profile

    Those who are eligible for the DHA license in Dubai should get their Primary Source Verification (PSV) done and clear the CBT assessment (if required).


    The DHA has partnered with DataFlow Group to screen professional applicants for the Dubai healthcare sector. The PSV runs thorough checks on the educational backgrounds and credentials of all professionals who submit a DHA license application. These checks ensure that only the most genuine profiles make it to the Dubai Medical Registry.


    For some healthcare professionals, particularly doctors, dentists and nurses, the DHA may require an initial CBT Assessment. This DHA license exam is conducted by Prometric – an independent examination board to assess the knowledge and skill levels of the applicants.

    Once you pass your Prometric CBT assessment and the PSV review, you can move on to register yourself for the DHA license in Dubai.


    To formally process the license application, you need to register on the DHA Sheryan. For that, simply:

    • Click on the “Register a Professional”
    • Provide the relevant information
    • Upload the necessary documents
    • Pay the DHA registration fees (AED 200) and submit

    The DHA will review your application in light of your CBT and PSV results and then either approve, reject or return your application for more information.


    Depending on the professional healthcare position you apply for, the DHA may require you to take an oral assessment.

    • Schedule a date for the oral assessment
    • Pay the fees (AED 250 – AED 500)
    • Take and pass the assessment


    As soon as you pass the oral assessment, you will be a registered DHA professional. All you need to do now is activate your DHA professional license. For that, here’s what you need to do via your Sheryan account:

    • Apply for DHA license activation
    • Submit offer letter and malpractice insurance certificate
    • Pay license activation fees (AED 1000 – AED 3000)

    After activation, the DHA will issue an interim license till the time the original one is delivered to you.


    How to get dha

    Make sure you have all the documents required to register for the Dubai Medical Registry

    According to the DHA license requirements, you need to submit the following documents for initial processing:

    • A recent photograph (passport size)
    • Copy of your valid passport
    • Your educational qualifications
    • Your experience certificates
    • Practice license or registration
    • The Good Standing Certificate (GSC)
    • A 2-year surgical logbook (for surgeons)
    • A medical fitness test in case the applicant is aged 65 and above. You can get this done at any of the visa medical centres in Dubai .

    When your DHA license application is approved, you also need to submit:

    • An offer letter from your recruiting facility
    • A malpractice insurance certificate from your recruiting facility


    Your DHA license is valid for one year, after which you need to renew it. You can apply for DHA license renewal three months prior to the expiry date.


    Anyone who wishes to stay and work in Dubai as a licensed healthcare professional must renew their license/registration with updated experience and qualification details. Here are the documents you need for license renewal.

    • A copy of your valid passport
    • PSV result for
      • Good standing
      • License validity
      • Experience


      How to get dha

      You need to renew and update your license every year

      To renew your DHA license, you need to:

      • Upload the PSV document
      • Upload the new certificate of the Malpractice Insurance
      • Submit the application for licence renewal on Sheryan
      • Pay the DHA license renewal fees
      • Await DHA review

      Once approved by DHA, your medical license in Dubai will be automatically renewed and delivered to you via courier.


      There are several payments required during the different steps of the DHA licensing process. Here is a step-wise breakdown of DHA license fees for your convenience.

      DHA and Pregnancy: Role of DHA in Pregnancy, Uses, Benefits & How to Get More DHA

      Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for all individuals throughout life. However, during pregnancy and breastfeeding the need for omega-3s increases significantly to support the mother’s health as well as the baby’s brain and overall development.

      Before we delve into why mothers-to-be need additional omega-3s, let us first know about a particular type of omega-3 fatty acid i.e., DHA. Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid and a nutritional powerhouse. It is as important as other vitamins and minerals for good health and most importantly, it is the building block of the brain (1). DHA is not synthesised by the body and needs to be supplemented through diet or supplementation. It is primarily obtained from fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and anchovies (2).

      Read this post to know why DHA is essential for both the mother and the baby and how to know if you are getting enough DHA.

      Why It's Important

      DHA is particularly present in high concentration in the brain (97 %), retina (93 %), and nervous system (1). Interestingly, DHA is accumulated in the retina until birth whereas, in the brain, the accumulation continues until the first two years of the baby’s life (3). This fact further underlines the importance of DHA in the growth and development of the fetus. However, there’s more to it–DHA is essential for the mother’s health as well (3).

      DHA benefits in growing babies (3, 4):

      • Supports eye & brain development
      • Critical in nervous system development
      • Ensures a healthy birth weight

      DHA benefits in mothers (3, 4):

      How Much DHA Do You Need

      According to the consensus guidelines, pregnant women are recommended to intake at least 200 mg DHA/day for optimal growth and development of the fetus (5).

      How Do You Get Tested?

      LifeCell’s OmegaScore-P provides a convenient and rapid way to know your DHA levels. It is a self-collection blood test, that provides expectant mothers with a simple tool to measure and optimise their DHA levels, from the comfort of their home. Additionally, the test is non-invasive and requires just a few drops of blood. You can book the test online and a specially designed self-collection kit is delivered to your doorstep with proper instructions. After a self-sample collection, the kit box is collected and delivered back to LifeCell, and clinically actionable results are shared within three working days.

      Based on your results, your doctor may recommend dietary changes or supplementation to help you reach the required DHA levels. It is recommended to repeat the test after four weeks to check if you have achieved the desired DHA levels.

      What Can Happen Due to DHA Deficiency?

      As a mother-to-be, you might wonder if DHA deficiency can harm your growing baby’s development.

      There is limited information on the long-term effects of DHA deficiency in babies during pregnancy. However, experts do believe that DHA consumption during pregnancy has the potential to outweigh the risks. With that being said, research has shown that babies of women who received fish oil (DHA) supplements during gestation were less likely to have preterm birth and had higher birth weight (3).

      How to Get More DHA

      For pregnant women, DHA supplementation is a great source to optimise their DHA levels. However, you can also talk to your dietitian and include DHA-rich foods and seafood in your diet.

      According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women should (6):

      • Consume 2-3 servings a week of a variety of fish (anchovy, herring, salmon, sardine, shrimp, lobster, tilapia (freshwater), oyster, etc. )
      • Consume 1 serving a week of some fish (halibut, tuna, albacore, snapper, white tuna, etc.)
      • Avoid certain fish with high mercury concentrations (swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, tuna bigeye, etc.)

      You may also consume DHA-fortified eggs, cereals, or dairy products.


      Your doctor may recommend DHA supplements if you are not getting enough DHA through your diet. It is recommended that after consultation with their doctor, pregnant women should take prenatal vitamins that contain at least 200 mg of DHA. Ideally, women should start taking DHA supplements three months before planning a pregnancy for optimal benefits.

      The Bottom Line

      DHA offers various benefits to the mother as well as the growing baby including brain and eye development, high birth weight, and longer gestation period. With OmegaScore-P, you can now be well informed if you are taking enough DHA to support your baby’s rapidly developing brain and your own health. This test can help you and your doctor make significant changes to your diet to plan a healthy pregnancy and a healthier baby!

      If you would like to know more about OmegaScore-P,
      Call 18002665533 or SMS DIAGNOSTICS to 53456 .