From before we’re born through adulthood, EPA and DHA omega-3s—the healthy fats found in certain fish and fish oil supplements—play an important role in many aspects of our health and development. EPA and DHA are especially important for infants and developing babies, who rely on these nutrients for proper eye and brain development and can only get them from their mothers. That’s why it’s crucial for pregnant and nursing mothers to consume enough fatty fish (or omega-3 supplements) to support their own health and the health of their growing babies. Here are three ways omega-3s can benefit you and your baby:
- EPA and DHA omega-3s make up a significant portion of the fat in the brain and retina of the eye, making them essential for infant brain and eye development. Because mothers are the sole source of DHA for developing babies, it is critical that pregnant and nursing mothers consume enough omega-3s to ensure proper brain and eye development for their babies. This is especially important from gestation up to two years when the brain relies on DHA for proper growth.
- A recent study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology found omega-3 supplements were associated with a 58 percent decrease in the likelihood of early preterm birth—babies born before 34 weeks—and a 17 percent decrease in any preterm delivery—babies born before 37 weeks.
- Omega-3s are important for mom’s health too. EPA and DHA have been shown to help maintain healthy blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and support brain and eye health throughout life. Both the American Heart Association and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines recognize the positive association between the consumption of omega-3s DHA and EPA and a healthy heart.
Our bodies can’t make these essential nutrients on our own, so we have to get them through diet by eating fatty fish like salmon and mackerel or taking a high-quality omega-3 supplement. The minimum recommended amount for adults is two servings of omega-3 rich fish per week or a daily supplement, equal to about 250mg a day. For pregnant or women who are breastfeeding, the amount increases to 300mg per day, 200 mg of which should be DHA. – PRNewswire