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Are YOU Taking This During Pregnancy?

Are YOU Taking This During Pregnancy?
By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES

Your obstetrician has probably told you to eat right and exercise during your pregnancy.
And they might have also told you how important Omega-3 fatty acids are for you when you are pregnant.
Especially your developing child’s BRAIN.

But the information you MIGHT not know about Omega 3 and pregnancy might SHOCK you.

During pregnancy you gain weight, due to the developing little person inside of you. So you are told to exercise, eat right, and maintain a somewhat hard-to-do healthy weight.

And your doctor MIGHT have told you about eating fish or taking a Krill oil or fish oil supplement.

But did they ever explain why?

You might have already found that Omega-3 fatty acids are important for YOUR health, by reducing cholesterol, inflammation, and as a way to fend off depression.

But did you know that those same Omega-3 fatty acids, are VITAL and IMPORTANT nutrients during fetal development?

That’s right, that little person inside of you is benefiting from YOUR healthy diet, or is getting all the WRONG nutrients from a poor diet.
Everything you eat is transferred to your developing child. So whatever goes in your mouth also feeds your child.

This is especially important when talking about Omega-3 fatty acids.

The Case for Omega-3 Fatty Acids

During the last trimester of your pregnancy, your developing child’s BRAIN needs the RIGHT

nutrients for proper development.

Your developing baby’s brain needs high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids to make sure its neurons and endorphins develop the right way.

But most people DO NOT get enough Omega-3 fatty acids.

Our “western” diet is full of Omega-6 fatty acids, which is far from the right kind.

The typical western diet is full of Omega-6 fatty acids, and low in Omega 3s.

You get your highest levels of Omega-3 fatty acids from plant sources in the form of ALA or from fish sources in the form of DHA.

The most widely used Omega-3 fatty acid by the brain is DHA. And you get DHA from plant and fish sources, or from Krill and fish oil supplements, and supplements made specifically for pregnancy.

So how do low levels of Omega 3s affect your developing child?
Let me explain…

There is a period of time right before birth and immediately after birth, when your child’s NEED for Omega-3 fatty acids is the highest.

This period is called the perinatal period, which includes the five months before your child is born and the first few months after.

This is the most crucial time for you and your child to take in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Why you? If you are breastfeeding, you are delivering Omega 3s directly to your child through your breast milk.

When Omega-3 fatty acids are lower in YOUR diet during pregnancy and after (if you are lucky enough to breast feed), this means there are less Omega-3 fatty acids available to your child.

Result: more Omega-6 fatty acids reaching the brain than Omega 3s.

On a side note, having increased levels of Omega 3s may also prevent premature births and

other birth-related complications.

But back to your developing child!

Omega 3 And Brain Development

A decrease in Omega-3 fatty acids leads to decreased levels found in the grey matter in the brain.

This can lead to neurocognitive deficits and may increase the chance for your child of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), depression, anxiety, and increase aggression.

Why?

The main component of Omega-3 fatty acids is DHA.

And DHA, in high levels in the developing brain, may reduce neurologic deficits which may lead to impaired cognitive and behavioral performance of your child.

DHA may help in the growth and function of nervous tissue.

DHA is the main functioning component in neurogenesis and neurotransmission.

DHA helps NERVE CELLS to grow and allows for messages to CROSS from one cell to another!

Now, the recommendations regarding fish intake is confusing.

There are no set recommendations for fish intake when you are pregnant. They do have GENERALIZED guidelines, but nothing concrete.

And there may be many other health risks associated with fish intake. Fish can contain mercury and PCBs which can also damage your child’s brain.

Luckily for you though, there are high-quality supplements on the market, which may be safer

and contain less traces of harmful toxins.

Be Sure To Eat Your FISH!

Even though Omega-3 intake is important throughout your life to possibly reduce health conditions, it is just as IMPORTANT to increase OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID intake during pregnancy.

Increased Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy may help in nerve cell growth and function, and may help keep levels higher in the blood circulating to the developing brain.

Increasing your fatty acids intake by eating fish twice a week and supplementing your diet with a high-quality Krill oil supplement, may increase your essential fatty acid intake in a safe and more effective way, without the exposure to harmful toxins found in certain fish.

Prenatal and postnatal health is of utmost importance for your health, and the health of your developing child!

References:Uary, R, MD. Dangour, A, PhD. Nutrition in Brain Development and Aging: Role of Essential Fatty Acids. Nutrition Reviews. 2008. Vol. 64(S2);pp. S24-S33.Saldeen, P,MD, PhD. Saldeen, T MD, PHD. Women and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey. 2004. Vol. 59(10);pp. 722-730.Innis, S. Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. 2008. Brain Research. Vol. 1237;pp. 35-43.Innis, S. Dietary (n-3) Fatty Acids and Brain development. J. Nutr. 2007. Vol. 137(4); pp.855-859.McNamara, R. Carlson, S. Role of Omega-3 fatty acids in brain development and function: Potential implications for the pathogenesis and prevention of psychopathology. 2006. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. Vol. 75(4-5);pp. 329-349.

Author: Russ Logisse

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