This post was written by Erin Palinski-Wade
The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. Welcoming baby Jimmy and growing from a family of three to a family of four has been an adjustment. Sure, we are sleep deprived and running on fumes, but the joy in watching my older son embrace his role as big brother and getting to know and love our new little one are experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. The biggest difference I have noticed since becoming a mother, and I am sure you can relate, is how easy it can be to forget about self-care and focus only on the needs of your family instead of yourself. The thing is, I know that taking the time to ensure my dietary needs are met won’t just help me, but will be essential in promoting health in my baby as well. That’s why I teamed up this month with the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) www.alwaysomega3s.com to provide this sponsored post on the importance of omega-3 fatty acids and why they are essential for both you and your baby.
EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which come from marine sources such as fish and algae, play a large role in the health of your baby. Everything from brain development to eye health can be impacted by the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular DHA. you consume each day. GOED put together this fantastic video that explains the importance of DHA in the diet for the health of both mom and baby.
As a new mom once again, I wanted to share with you my top three reasons as to why you need omega-3 fatty acids in your diet and how to get them, especially if you are planning to become pregnant, are already pregnant, or are nursing your child.
#1 Fish oil supplementation may reduce the odds of preterm birth
Recently, a study was published in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology that looked at the role omega-3 fatty acids play in preterm birth (babies born before 34 weeks) and preterm delivery (babies born before 37 weeks). The study found that taking an omega-3 supplement during pregnancy reduced the risk of preterm birth by 58% and reduced the risk of preterm delivery by 17%.
#2 DHA intake may impact your baby’s eye health
The body’s highest concentration of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is found in the retina of the eye which allows them to play an essential role in eye health, especially for the health of the infant eye. In fact, evidence suggests that the DHA intake of the mother contributes to the normal visual development of the fetus and breastfed infant up to 12 months of age. For this reason, taking in an adequate amount of DHA in the mother’s diet each day both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is key to eye health.
#3 DHA intake impacts infant brain development
Mothers are the sole source of DHA omega-3 for developing babies, which makes up a significant percentage of the fat in the brain. The brain needs DHA to grow and develop, especially halfway through pregnancy and up until two years of age. During pregnancy, your unborn child relies on the mother to provide this vital nutrient. After birth, the infant’s sole source of DHA comes from the mother’s breast milk. Consuming enough omega-3s both during pregnancy and while nursing can help to ensure proper brain development in your baby.
How much omega-3 is enough?
The minimum intake for optimal adult health and the development of your baby is 300 mg per day of EPA and DHA with at least 200mg coming from DHA. While the body can store omega-3s just fine, it doesn’t efficiently produce EPA and DHA on its own. That’s why, while it’s OK to eat fatty fish just two or three times per week to reach that 300 mg per day average, it is essential to make sure you get that EPA and DHA from diet or from a high quality supplement. Cold-water fatty fish such as salmon and tuna can provide a good source of omega-3s, but most of us just do not eat enough fish. Especially during pregnancy where food aversions may be high, it can be hard to get what you need from diet alone. In the US, more than 75% of adults are deficient in these important omega-3s, so it is very likely you may be.
Even if you consume a well-balanced diet, you may not be able to achieve the recommendations for EPA and DHA every day during pregnancy and while nursing. I know for myself, this is definitely a struggle. Not every member of my family shares my love of fish, so having it regularly isn’t always practical. That’s why I rely on adding a high quality omega-3 supplement rich in DHA to my diet to ensure I am meeting the recommended amounts daily. I also recommend that my pregnant and lactating clients do the same. This way, you are ensuring that you are giving your baby the healthiest start possible.
For more information on the importance of omega-3s to health, make sure to visit www.alwaysomega3s.com.
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED). All opinions are my own