The early foods can help with a babies brain development. This is why its so important for pregnant and nursing mothers to get a healthy intake of Omega-3 in their diet.
We already know the benefits of Omega-3's on the brain, heart, skin, and eyes. In practice, and also from our previous talks on OMEGA-3's, many questions have risen, so we've compiled some information to provide more insight.
SYMPTOMS OF OMEGA-3 DEFICIENCY
Omega-3 deficiency symptoms include: Dry skin, fatigue, poor memory, mood swinds, depression, and poor circulation and heart problems. Some researchers are stating that omega-3 deficiency causes 96,000 deaths a year in the US.
ARE ALL OMEGA-3's THE SAME?
No. Omega-3's come in different forms. DHA, EPA, and ALA. They also come from different sources. Not all sources have the same type or quantity of Omega-3, or DHA that we desire. Ultra-refined is best. If you can obtain from sources such as anchovies, mackeral, or sardines, then these fish sources contain much less mercury levels as small fish are in the sea for less time to be exposed to high levels.
DHA IS BEST
We know now that DHA is best for heart, brain and eyes. The body is easily able to convert DHA –> EPA –> ALA. However to go back from ALA –> EPA –> DHA takes way too much energy and is not at all effecient. The amount of DHA is not significant enough to the levels our body requires. Therefore, we must ingest DHA from our foods and supplements directly. Look for high quanties of DHA in the nutritional content labels.
FOOD or SUPPLEMENT
We are avid supporters of healthy eating, and obtaining nutrients, minerals, and vitamins through natural sources such as fresh organic foods, however, in this case we lose the battle. It is nearly impossible to get the amounts of OMEGA-3 DHA into our bodies from food. Unless we are consuming generous amounts of FISH daily, and regularly, we are not getting the amounts we need. A recent studies showed that 16% of US children did not consume any fish within 12months.
IS FLAXSEED AN EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE FOR VEGANS?
I would say YES and NO. First off, if the source must be flaxseed, then the seeds must be crushed. If taken whole, they wont be absorbed well. If the dietary intake source must be free of animal products, then flaxseed or plant based products are better than non at all. Flaxseed has the OMEGA-3 ALA form. There is not a significant amout of DHA available in flaxseed as there is obtainable through fish oils. A much better source of DHA for vegans is ALGAE products such as made by FLORA.
HOW MUCH DHA DO I NEED?
DHA dosages recommended for Adults = 220 to 300mg/day; Children = 150mg/day; Pregnant Women = 300mg/day.
American heart association recommends eating fish at least two times a week.
IMPORTANCE OF OMEGA-3 IN PREGNANCY
Women with higher DHA intakes (via 4 fish servings/week) or by way of supplementation during pregnancy, ranging up to 1100 mg DHA (plus 800 mg EPA) daily, gave birth to infants with higher cognitive development scores and young children with higher IQ scores and mental processing scores up to 4 years of age. To measure memory and brain function, the child below has spongy suction cups placed on head, and sits on moms lap and watches pictures of toys.
The Earliest foods can affect brain function, so "when a baby has a DHA deficiency, it could mean that the breastfeeding mother needs to cut down on Omega-6 fats and add more omega-3 fat to her diet" – states Neuroscientist Carol Cheatham. Mom passes on nutrient to baby through her breastmilk, and if mom is not getting enough DHA, then baby is not getting enough DHA.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Be Aware of Interactions! People on blood thinners (ie. warfarin, coumadin, aspirin): Omega-3 can increase bleeding. Acid reflux patients : Omega-3 can worsen the disorder. Cholesterol levels and blood plasma sugar levels may be altered by Omega-3's. Please consult your doctor for any intereactions before you introduce higher levels of Omega-3's. Always consult your OB/GYN prior to making any changes.