Fatty acids play a variety of roles to assist our body. They are used as a source of energy and help store energy.
They promote the body’s absorption and transportation of vitamins. Without them, our brain and its nerves would not be able to function properly.
You can think of communication in the brain as a constant flow of electrical messages sent through wires. Like any sort of wiring, insulation allows messages to not only flow faster but also inhibits the crossing over of messages. Our brain insulates its wiring with a fatty material (known as the myelin sheaf).
Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid… ‘essential’ basically meaning your body is not able to produce this type of fat on its own and therefore relies on an individual’s diet to source it. Essential fatty acids are particularly important for growth and cell function.
The main fat groups include:
Omega 3 falls under the polyunsaturated fats and has two sources:
1. PLANT OMEGA 3
• EICOSAPENTAENOIC ACID(EPA): EPA supports the heart, immune system, and inflammatory response. When used in conjunction with L-arginine and RNA (ribonucleic acid), EPA is applied after surgery to assist in the healing of wounds.
– Fish is high in EPA
• DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA): DHA supports the brain, eyes and central nervous system. It is the key component of the cell membrane (the fatty wall of around cells – that is responsible for what goes in and out of the cell and keeps everything that needs to be in the cell, inside of it).
DHA deficiency has been linked to poor cell connectivity, gene expression and neurotransmission. During pregnancy, in the last trimester DHA increases in the infants brain from 300-500%.
DHA is high in the following foods:
– Salmon and tuna
– Anchovies and caviar
– Herring and Mackerel
Marine Omega 3
• ALPHA-LINOLENIC ACID (ALA): maintains normal heart rhythm and pumping.
Foods high in ALA include:
– Chia seeds and flaxseeds
– Walnuts, peanuts and almonds
Omega 3 fatty acids have been known to have positive effects on the brain through out development. Both DHA and EPA in particular, are crucial in foetal development and play an important anti-inflammatory role.
Omega 3 consumption is also reported in treatment of schizophrenia, personality disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is often taken to assist in management of wide range of cardiovascular diseases and reducing levels of triglycerides (basically blood fat).
Omega 3 fatty acids have been known to have positive effects on the brain through out development. There properties include:
The consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids is also taken as a precaution to rude high blood pressure but this research does not stop there. There is a widescope of findings that report there is better outcomes for children who’s mother’s consumed greater levels of Omega 3 during pregnancy. Research has shown improvements can be seen in Verbal IQ, Hand-eye coordination and sequential processing, when compared mothers who did not consume Omega 3 or consumed a lesser amount.
A longitudinal study involved 11 875 pregnant women completing a food frequency questionnaire. It found that greater maternal consumption of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with lower risk of suboptimum verbal IQ,
A randomised controlled trial study found that woman who took 4 fish oil tablets a day (compared to controls who had 4 capsules of olive oil a day), had greater levels of DHA and EPA in their breast milk, both of which were positively correlated with hang and eye coordination (scored by Griffith’s developmental scores).
A study found that at age 7 children who’s mother’s had greater plasma phospholipid concentration of ALA and DHA during pregnancy were correlated with greater sequential processing ability.
PREVENTING PRETERM LABOUR
Increased intake of EPA and DHA has been shown to prevent pre-term labor and delivery, lower the risk of preeclampsia, and may increase birth weight.
Omega-3 deficiency has been associated as a predictor of a mother’s risk for depression.
This may explain why postpartum mood disorders may become worse and begin earlier with subsequent pregnancies.
SO HOW MUCH FISH OIL SHOULD I BE CONSUMING DURING PREGNANCY, AFTER AND SHOULD I BE GIVING IT TO BE CHILD?
The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends the following for adequate omega-3 consumption. On the other hand, the American Heart Association recommends 2-4 grams daily of EPA + DHA.
Infants (0-12 months) 0.5 grams
Children (1-3 years) 0.7 grams
Children (4-8 years old) 0.9 grams
Children (9-13 years old) 1.0 grams
Female Adolescents and Adults (14+ years) 1.1 grams
Male Adolescents and Adults (14+ years) 1.6 grams
Female (Pregnant) 1.4 grams
Dunstan, J. A., Mitoulas, L. R., Dixon, G., Doherty, D. A., Hartmann, P. E., Simmer, K., & Prescott, S. L. (2007). The effects of fish oil supplementation in pregnancy on breast milk fatty acid composition over the course of lactation: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatric Research, 62(6), 689.
Dunstan, J. A., Simmer, K., Dixon, G., & Prescott, S. L. (2006). Cognitive assessment at 2½ years following fish oil supplementation in pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial. Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition.
Helland IB, Smith L, Saarem K, Saarem K, Saugstad OD, Drevon CA. Maternal supplementation with very-long-chain n-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and lactation augments children’s IQ at 4 years of age. Pediatrics 2003;111:pe39–44.
Helland IB, Smith L, Blomen B, Saugstad OD, Drevon CA. Effect of supplementing pregnant and lactating mothers with n-3 very-long-chain fatty acids on children’s IQ and body mass index at 7 years of age. Pediatrics 2008;122:pe472–9
Hibbeln, J. R., Davis, J. M., Steer, C., Emmett, P., Rogers, I., Williams, C., & Golding, J. (2007). Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study. The Lancet, 369(9561), 578-585.