Expectant mothers are being bombarded with new prenatal fish oil supplements. Are they effective? Are they safe? Should you take DHA during pregnancy at all? The answers are maybe, maybe and yes - if you know what you are doing.
First, there seems to be some confusion about the relationship between DHA and omega 3 fish oil. DHA is an omega 3. What this means is that if you are trying to take DHA during pregnancy, you do not need a "prenatal" formula. A quality omega 3 fish oil supplement will not only suffice but in most cases be preferable.
There are really two omega 3s that mother and child need. The second one is EPA. In, other words if you plan on taking DHA during pregnancy you need EPA also, but not as much.
Why should I take omega 3s in the first place?
The two found in fish oil are part of every cell in our body. DHA is particularly prevalent in the brain and eyes, EPA in cell membranes. The research on this has not gone unnoticed, even in Washington.
Omega 3s have been shown to benefit four of the top five ailments or conditions for which troops receive hospital treatment. Those includes pregnancy and depression. The U.S. Department of defense is looking into adding these essential fats to soldiers diets.
It is not just combat performance that could be improved by omega-3s. Some military dietitians believe they could help to cut medical bills running into millions of dollars. The DOD is looking at doing this for their pregnant female soldiers because the research is pretty overwhelming.
What scientists have found is this.
Ninety-nine% of people in the West are estimated to have an omega 3 deficiency. Unless an expectant mother takes EPA and DHA during pregnancy that figure is going to include her and her child. What this means is that after the child is born she or he will be more likely to have:
1] Increased risk of depression, ADD, mood swings and emotional volatility.
2] Lower IQ scores - 8-10 points or more.
3] Visual problems.
4] Coordination development issues.
Mom is also more likely to have early labor and postpartum depression of her own.
The growing fetus is almost literally an omega 3 sponge. Since our bodies can not make these essential fats, the fetus is going to grab them from mom. If mom is not taking EPA and DHA during pregnancy then they both will likely have shortages.
What about supplements?
The only way to get these fats is by supplement or eating a lot of fish. The FDA is okay with purified supplements but not with too much fish. Heavy metals from the ocean are bad for everyone but downright deadly to young children.
As I mentioned earlier there are no special omega 3s for prenatal, postnatal or senior citizens. In fact, many of the prenatal supplements I have seen are inefficient at the least and contaminated at the worst. Do your research. Stick with quality. For more information in this area, please visit my website.
Remember, your unborn child is getting nutrients from you. Talk to your doctor about taking EPA and DHA during pregnancy. You need enough for at least two of you.