Omega-3 - DHA During Pregnancy
Author: ejuno Date Posted:15 November 2017
Omega-3 - DHA During Pregnancy Promotes a Healthy Mother and Baby
Omega-3 Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found primarily in fish and other seafood, is an essential nutrient that must be obtained through the diet. Research has shown that pregnant women who include fish in their diets tend to avoid several serious pregnancy-related complications, including depression and preeclampsia. Maternal intake of omega-3 DHA may also play an important role in an infant's healthy immune system, advanced brain development, and keen eyesight.
Omega-3 DHA for a Mother's Health
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for brain and eye function, is found abundantly in fish. Milk production and a developing fetus are two functions that are prone to deplete a mother of her DHA stores. Pregnant women who include seafood in their diets tend to have lower rates of depression during pregnancy and also in the postpartum period.
DHA has also been shown to help prevent preeclampsia, which is a serious condition that can occur late in pregnancy and shortly after birth. Preeclampsia is known primarily by the symptoms of elevated blood pressure and high protein in the urine.
Diets that include fish that are high in selenium and low in mercury are most beneficial. Primary examples include salmon, canned light tuna, and catfish. Selenium is a trace mineral that binds to mercury, which results in a new material that the body cannot absorb.
The Food & Drug Administration recommends 12 ounces of fish each week for pregnant and nursing mothers. It is also recommended that they avoid species that are highest in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel.
Omega-3 DHA for an Infant's Health
DHA is essential to both the function and development of the brain and eyes. Fish in a mother's diet may enhance brain health in her developing fetus, which continues after delivery through breastfeeding and may result in higher intelligence and cognitive development. A mother's DHA intake may also contribute to an increased attention span in her infant.
Visual acuity is generally increased with higher levels of breast milk DHA. In some instances, an infant's vision develops more quickly than in those with a lower DHA intake.
A mother's DHA consumption has pointed to the improved development of a baby's immune system. Research has shown that more DHA in a mother's diet leads to a more permeable gut, which allows substances and bacteria to enter the baby's bloodstream. Although this process sounds harmful, it actually results in the production of antibodies, which are essential to a healthy immune system.
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, offer health benefits that are important to both an expectant mother and the proper development of her child. A pregnant woman who includes fish in her diet tends to have higher levels of DHA. Increased DHA is often associated with lower rates of depression and lowered risk of preeclampsia. An infant will benefit as well, often displaying exceptional cognitive function, superior eye development, and a healthy immune system.