What to Expect When You are Expecting


Do You Know the Importance of DHA?

A survey of recent mums and mums-to-be showed these results:

  • 50% of the women surveyed did not know about the need for DHA, a critical nutrient for the healthy development of a baby
  • 68% said their doctor did not tell them about DHA
  • 72% said they had no idea how to get DHA into their diets
  • 17% said they were aware that fish is a source of DHA
  • 92% were interested in including DHA in the diet once they were advised of its benefits

Source: The Kelton Study sponsored by the Society for Women’s Health Research located in Washington DC.   

Oh, Mama … Meet Your New Best Friend: Docosahexaenoic Acid.

Known as DHA for short, this important nutrient is considered paramount for the child-bearing years. It is a naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acid found in cold water fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel as well as some organ meats. Because the body cannot produce omega-3s, women must consume them through the diet or through supplementation.

The “Fat” Facts of Life

DHA is the predominant structural fatty acid in the brain and retina. It makes sense then that a developing foetus and a new born infant have particularly high requirements for DHA, depending on mum for their intake through the placenta during pregnancy and through breast milk after birth. DHA is necessary for optimal visual and mental development plus the proper functioning of the nervous and immune systems. And research has shown that infants of mothers who consumed DHA during pregnancy have higher levels of DHA than infants whole mothers consumed little DHA. With adequate levels of DHA, a woman’s body has the building blocks required to ensure and protect your child’s healthy growth. 

What to Expect When You are Expecting

Scientific research is showing us just how important these fats are for pre and post natal development. Take a look at these findings:

  • Maternal DHA supplementation resulted in improved eye-hand coordination at 2.5 years of age and improved attention skills at 5 years.
  • Infants whose mothers had higher blood DHA levels showed better sleep patterns
  • Children of women who took cod liver oil during pregnancy and while nursing had higher IQs at age 4 than children of the mothers that received a placebo
  • Mothers who supplement with fish oils are more likely to give birth to full term babies and have healthier birth weights
  •  When mothers took cod liver oil during pregnancy, their offspring had a lower risk of diabetes

To review these studies and more on the connection between on omega-3s and pregnancy, please see 

Who Needs DHA? Women of All Ages!

Women who want to conceive: Waiting until you are pregnant is not the optimum time to be thinking about DHA stores. Because it can take time for the body to build up this important nutrient, consider a minimum of 3 months prior to conception. Multiple pregnancies, especially those that are close together, also deplete the mother’s store of omega-3s.

Women who are pregnant: Keeping levels of DHA sufficient during the entire pregnancy is important. The largest amount of brain development takes place in the third trimester meaning DHA is transferred from mother to baby at a high rate.

Women who are breastfeeding: The need for DHA remains critical for your new baby through 2 years of age as he or she continues to develop. After delivery, a mother’s level of DHA can remain low as breastfeeding transmits her reserves of DHA to the breast milk for baby.

Women of all ages: Although DHA is a critical component for the health of mum and bub, all women can benefit from this important fatty acid which offers positive support for heart health, stress management, immune functioning and balanced moods. 

Finding a Solution!

Supplementation may be the best solution for ensuring adequate levels of DHA. To ensure adequate amounts of DHA and EPA in the diet for mum and baby, a high quality third party tested fish oil that guarantees purity and freshness as well as potency should be taken during pregnancy through lactation. International recommendations suggest a minimum daily intake of 300 mg of DHA when pregnant and nursing. 

Now that your child is back to school, it is important to give them the nutrition they need to stay focused and attentive. Nourishing meals rich in omega-3 are important to give your child the extra head start they need. Research has proven that a daily dose of omega-3 supplements may boost brain activity in children.

Below are 7 things you didn’t know about omegas for your child’s health:

1.       Essential fatty acids are necessary to remain healthy

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish and fish oil that are essential for healthy foetal, infant, and child development.

2.       Omega-6 isn’t as healthy as it sounds

It is hard to avoid omega-6 as they are highly abundant in the modern Western diet. It is advisable to swap some of your child’s grain based foods such as bread and pasta for more fruits and vegetables such as berries, mangos, leafy greens, squash and cauliflower.  When cooking, try to avoid soy, safflower, sunflower or ‘vegetable’ oils as these are considerably higher in omega-6 than most other oils.

3.       Omega-3 can be found in food

Cold water fish such as salmon and sardines contain high levels of omega-3, as well as free-range eggs and natural yoghurt. Although adding these to your child’s diet will definitely increase their omega-3 levels, balancing their omega-6 and omega-3 is important. Your child would have to eat an abundant amount of fish to even come close to tipping the balance in most household circumstances. That is why a fish oil supplement may be of benefit.

4.       Fish oil supplements are all different

The many natural features of fish oil which make it so beneficial for adults, apply equally, if not more so, to children. To ensure safety from toxins and free radicals, and to avoid a fishy aftertaste or burps, choose a supplement that is third-party tested for purity and freshness, with a certificate of analysis available to demonstrate this. Only third-party analysis can verify the quality of a fish oil supplement.

5.       Children lack omega-3 in their diet

The vast majority of children are not getting enough EPA and DHA because they do not regularly consume enough cold-water fish, either because they are picky eaters or because it is simply not available to them.

Although adding omega-3 foods in their diet is beneficial, due to the large amounts of omega-6 in the modern Western diet there may often still be an unbalance. A fish oil supplement that includes both EPA and DHA will ensure your child gains an adequate amount of these essential nutrients.



6.       Cognition and learning improvements with omegas

DHA is essential to normal brain function throughout life, supporting development, memory and learning. There is strong scientific evidence that both EPA and DHA help contribute to overall cognitive health, and research consistently shows that fish oil is associated with higher cognitive performance in children.

7.       Omegas may benefit mental health and behaviour

EPA and DHA have also shown positive effects on mood and behaviour, and may promote improved learning capabilities in a school setting.

This is why it is important to ensure that children have enough of these important essential fatty acids in their daily diet.

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