When it comes to pregnancy, evidence suggests that eating a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids may be directly correlated to better outcomes.
A recent meta-analysis of over 70 different studies found that Omega-3 supplementation could reduce the risk of premature birth (1) and several research papers also point out that Omega-3 fatty acids are also critical for the development of your baby’s brain (2, 3).
Our brains are approximately 60% fat and Omega-3 is one of the main structural components. In fact, A specific type of Omega-3 fatty acid called Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the only long-chain fatty acid that can provide structure for important brain-cell membranes, and improve nervous function in the brain. It is especially important for the maturation of the brain during the early years of a baby’s life.
We explain the ins and outs of DHA here, but the important thing to remember is that a baby's brain matures rapidly. From conception until the age of two (the first 1,000 days of life), and that this process is supported by the accumulation of Omega-3 DHA in the brain.
Since all of this Omega-3 DHA is transferred from the mother (via the placenta during pregnancy, and then through breast milk once the baby starts feeding), it’s critically important that mothers get enough Omega-3, ideally from a clean and bioavailable source like algae.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, all women should “consider taking a prenatal Omega-3 fatty acid supplement alongside their prenatal vitamins" (4). The justification for this is that Western diets are known to be Omega-3 deficient, but also that Omega-3 fatty acids are “critically important to young infants” - and we’re inclined to agree.
SUMMARY: The most rapid development of a baby's brain occurs from conception until 24 months (the first 1,000 days of life). Omega-3 DHA plays a crucial role during this process and is a major structural component of the brain. This DHA reaches the baby via the placenta during pregnancy and through breast milk once the baby starts feeding. For this reason, it is important that the mother gets enough Omega-3 DHA.
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