If you’re pregnant or nursing you ought consider increasing your intake of Omega 3 fish oil.

If you’re having a baby soon you may be concerned about the possibility of postpartum depression. Otherwise known as postnatal depression, this is a form of depression suffered by women shortly after childbirth.

It is estimated that somewhere between 15% and 20% of women can suffer from postpartum depression symptoms after birth. In some the symptoms of postpartum depression can be mild and soon overcome but in others it can result in serious depressive symptoms and develop into a depressive illness. So anything that may work is a good postpartum depression treatment is worth investigating.

We have already written an article about the use of Omega 3 fish oil supplements for depression. There is now emerging evidence that supplementation of DHA, the major active ingredient of Omega 3 fish oil supplements, can also be an effective, albeit partial, postpartum depression treatment. There is a series of studies suggesting that this is in fact the case.

It has been known for some time that women who suffer from poor nutrition can be more prone to postnatal depression. This is not just a lower intake of fish or fish oil but also includes a range of other important nutrients, both before during and after pregnancy including folic acid, calcium and iron as well as Omega 3 fats.Postpartum Depression and Omega 3

Recently David Kyle, the US director of the Mother and Child Foundation, suggested that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can improve their babies neurological development and reduce the chances of postnatal depression by increasing their intake of DHA. DHA is the most important of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids found primarily in fish oil and available to all of us from eating fish and in particular from daily supplementation by fish oil capsules.

This claim followed a number of research studies that have confirmed that higher levels of DHA in the diet can reduce postpartum depression symptoms. And by increasing the mothers intake of DHA there is also an increase of DHA in the breastmilk and this, in turn, as well is reducing postpartum depression symptoms, leads to improved development outcomes for the child.

The evidence for increasing DHA in the intake of babies and children is now so compelling that the FDA has approved the addition of DHA to infant formulas.

In one of the studies of the role of DHA as a postpartum depression treatment all of the women who received the DHA showed substantial improvement in their postpartum depression symptoms with their depression scores dropping by around 50 percent.

David Kyle has now suggested that the evidence pointing to the role of DHA in limiting depression after birth is sufficient to warrant women who are pregnant or nursing taking daily Omega 3 fish oil supplements or eating more fish. Unfortunately there are also FDA warnings about toxic contamination of fish and therefore it is not suggested that women eat too much fish particularly if pregnant or nursing.

Therefore the best way of increasing their DHA intake is to take fish oil supplements.

Note that not all fish oil supplements are the same. Many vary enormously in the level of DHA found in the supplements.

So if you’re pregnant or nursing there is good evidence that the health of both you and your baby can be improved by taking daily fish oil supplements.

Even if you’re neither there is sufficient evidence to suggest that every adult in the US should be taking fish oil supplements for the health in any case.

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