Martek Biosciences Corporation, a component of Royal DSM NV, produces nutritional ingredients for the food, beverage, dietary supplement and early life nutrition industries. The company's products include the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), an omega-6 fatty acid.
The history of this company begins in outer space. In the early 1980s, NASA's Closed Environment Life Support System program explored the use of microalgae as a food supply, oxygen source and waste disposal catalyst on long duration interplanetary missions. Scientists continued work independently after the completion of the program, founding what would become Martek Biosciences (now a proud part of DSM Nutritional Products), a leader in microalgae research and development. Martek research soon identified (Crypthecodinium cohnii) algae, which produces high levels of DHA omega-3 fatty acid (docosahexaenoic acid), and a fungus (Mortierella alpina) that yields ARA (arachidonic acid), another essential fatty acid.
Human breast milk contains all of the essential nutrients an infant needs for optimal growth, development and long-term health, including the fatty acids, DHA and ARA. DHA and ARA play key roles in the structure and function of human tissues, immune function, and brain and retinal development during gestation and infancy.
DHA is found throughout the body and is critical for healthy brain and eye development and function and has been shown to support heart health through adulthood. Just as calcium is essential for building strong bones, DHA ensures that the cells in the brain, retina, heart, and other parts of the nervous system develop and function properly. DSM Nutritional Products and the National Institutes of Health continue to study the potential health benefits of DHA for all stages of life.
Today, products containing DHA for children and adults are found around the world through fortified foods, beverages and dietary supplements.