Must be Omega-3s on the Brain: How to Give Your Baby’s Brain Some Serious Love So we’ve been told for a while now that consuming omega-3s is essential for optimal adult nutrition, but did you know that it is a building block for baby’s growing brain?
Expecting mamas with high levels of one of the omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), at the time of delivery give baby a huge advantage in nutrition. Scientists have formulated various ways to test general developmental markers such as problem solving and language development, to measure brain development in infants whose mothers consumed omega-3s in comparison to those who did not. In fact, Dr. Emily Oken, a professor in the department of Nutrition at Harvard University conducted a study in 2004 and found that higher omega-3 consumption during pregnancy resulted in higher visual recognition memory and higher scores of verbal intelligence in the infant. Ultimately, there is a large amount of data that suggests that omega-3 fatty acid intake during pregnancy is crucial for fetal brain development and continues later in life through the child’s neurodevelopment. Dr. Jaclyn Coletta-Luca and her colleagues from Columbia University Medical center also found that omega-3 fatty acid deprivation during pregnancy is associated with impaired developmental and behavior scores later in the infant’s life.
It’s hard to keep up with constantly changing science, but we can rely on one thing for certain: DHA level during pregnancy is linked to baby’s development. The human body does not make the essential fatty acid DHA, so the best way for you to achieve high DHA levels is through your diet! Expecting mamas should aim to consume anywhere from 300-500 mg of omega-3s (or 1 serving of omega-3 rich food) daily.
Your best source of omega-3s will come from food; avoid solely relying on your DHA pill supplement to cover your mg amount. As far as healthy food options goes, seafood is a popular source for getting your omega-3s. A lot of expecting mamas avoid consuming fish during their pregnancy, but that shouldn’t be the case- you can find a separate blog post I wrote about eating fish while pregnant here).
More great options are omega-3 fortified eggs, flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts. And a word on supplements- any supplement you choose to take should serve as back-up for whatever your food is lacking. It is EXTREMELY important that if you choose to use a supplement, that you are consuming the highest quality supplement possible. Because supplements are exempt from FDA regulation, it makes it hard for consumers to weed out the good from the bad; did you know that some supplement suppliers secretly make their products with pesticides or fillers?
When choosing a supplement, be on the lookout for seals of approval from third parties that test whether the supplement was well-manufactured, that it contains only the ingredients listed on the label, and that they do not contain harmful levels of contaminants. Here is a supplement that I love and TRUST.
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