| What Does Baby Formula & Algae & NASA Have In Common?
By Janet P. Stevens
Mar 12, 2009, 13:45 PST
A microalgae that was studied for use as a food supply, oxygen source, and waste disposal catalyst on long-duration interplanetary space missions became the basis for a life-saving food supplement that is found in nearly all U.S. infant formulas, as well as infant formulas in more than 75 other countries.
In the 1980's work at NASA's Ames Research Center found that crypthecodinium cohnii algae produces high levels of DHA omega-3 fatty acid (docosahexaenoic acid), and a fungus (Mortierella alpine) yields ARA (arachidonic acid), another essential fatty acid. These essential fatty acids occur naturally in human breast milk, and are essential to healthy infant development, but they were not found in infant formulas at the time.
Martek developed Formulaid to address this deficiency, an algae-based baby formula supplement that is particularly vital for premature and low-birth-weight infants and is now consumed by more than 33 million babies worldwide. The algae is also marketed under the brands of life's DHA™ and life's ARA™. These fatty acids are also being studied for their potential benefits for improved cognitive function and reduced risk of diseases including Alzheimer’s.
Martek's microalgae will be inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame® on April 2, 2009 at the 25th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
So, the next time someone asks you what the space program ever did for the average person, you can tell them it helped protect the development of baby's brain functions all over the world.
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