What Do Omega 3 Fats Have To Do With Fetal Brain Development?
Keep Omega 3 fats in your diet to aid fetal development.
DHA is an essential fatty acid found right through your body, and in particular your brain. And it has been discovered that DHA is very important in brain development, as well as other aspects of fetal development. DHA is also a major fatty acid found in the retina of the eye, as well as other organs of the body.
Importantly it is also found in breast milk.
Now babies cannot produce their own DHA, so they get it from their mother. They get it through the placenta before they are born and from the breast milk after. For this reason a mother is constantly losing some of her supplies of DHA to her baby.
For this reason many experts recommend an Omega 3 supplement to mothers to be and breast feeding mothers. Both to supplement the DHA that baby is getting, and to maintain their own supplies. There are other supplements also recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers, like folic acid, but Omega 3 fats high in DHA are now on the list.
Both for fetal brain and eye development, and other aspects of fetal development.
A study published in The Lancet in 2007, where 11,000 women were tested for the effects of low levels of consumption of seafood, specifically less than 340 grams, tested for the effects of low levels of seafood intake and childhood development.
The children of the women involved in the study were tested from the age of 6 months right up to the age of 8.
And it was found that low levels of seafood intake during pregnancy had children who exhibited lower levels of IQ than those with high levels of seafood intake during pregnancy.
Not only that it was also demonstrated that children of women with lower levels of seafood intake had other problems such as poorer communication skills and poorer fine motor skills as well is some social behavioural issues.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007 studied the effects of DHA supplementation on pregnant women. The supplementation was achieved by way of cereal bars supplemented with DHA. Supplementation began at 24 weeks right through until delivery.
And it was also found in this study that infants of women who had supplemented their diet with DHA during pregnancy did better on solving problems than the incidence whose mothers did not receive the DHA.
Of course there is plenty more research required in this area, but it seems that there is a growing body of evidence that taking fish oil, and specifically DHA, during pregnancy may well give your infant a good head start in life.
Recommendations for how much DHA should be consumed by pregnant and nursing mothers vary, but are around 200 to 300 mg per day. With our modern diet it is unlikely that we get enough DHA in our diets.
Remember, before taking any form of supplements, whether you’re pregnant or not, consult your doctor first.
DHA is found primarily in fish oils, along with other essential Omega 3 faty acids like EPA. However some experts are wary of suggesting that pregnant or nursing mothers should be taking fish oil supplements.
They’re wary because fish can accumulate sea born toxins in their system, like PCBs and mercury. The further up the food chain the fish is the higher the concentration of nasty toxins that you don’t want to be eating.
For this reason though the very best Omega 3 supplements go to extreme lengths to make sure that they are completely free of any contaminants.
There are very strict international standards for the levels of contamination accepted in Omega 3 supplements. The very best Omega 3 supplements are free of any form of chemical contamination, because they use a fish that is found in the cleanest part of the worlds oceans, they process the fish in a particular way then they decontaminate to an extreme degree.
There now seems to be little doubt that mothers and pregnant women ought to be taking the best Omega 3 supplements high in DHA, for both their own health and the health and development of their babies.
Along with other supplements, like folic acid, it is now something that doctors, mothers and pregnant women ought to pay a lot of attention to.
Filed under: Omega 3 And Brain Health