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Omega-3 Benefits Your Baby’s Brain and Eyes


Dr. Mercola’s Comments, Excerpted from www.mercola.com

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that omega-3 fats benefit eye and cognitive development in babies, but stopped short of recommending additional supplementation. Their reasoning was that babies acquire most of the omega-3 fat DHA from breast milk, which appeared to contain an adequate supply of this healthy fat.

Typically I am completely in favor of obtaining your healthy fats, vitamins and other nutrients from the food you eat. However, animal-based omega-3’s are one exception where I believe taking a supplement is very important.

There are two major reasons for this. First, the food source of omega-3, which is fish and other seafood, is not a safe option. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our fish supply is now so heavily contaminated with industrial pollutants and toxins like mercury, PCBs, heavy metals and radioactive poisons that I just can?t recommend it any longer.

The second major reason why a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat supplement is so important is because many people, including pregnant women, are deficient. Since a fetus is dependent on the omega-3 fat from its mother?s diet, and a baby is also dependent on the omega-3 fat from this source as well (via breast milk), it?s essential that women have adequate supplies. Yet, most women do not get enough from diet alone.

Why Omega-3 Fat is So Important for Babies? Development

Omega-3 fat and its derivative DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are so essential to a child’s development that if a mother and infant are deficient in it, the child’s nervous system and immune system may never fully develop, and it can cause a lifetime of unexplained emotional, learning, and immune system disorders.

Omega-3s contain a powerhouse of nutrients to ensure that your baby will develop properly and reach its highest potential. These nutrients help to maximize the intelligence of your child, and protect your baby from brain injuries such as autism, pervasive developmental delay, and ADHD.

Because the fetus depends on the mother?s DHA sources, the constant drain on a mother’s DHA reserves can easily lead to a deficiency and some researchers believe that preeclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure) and postpartum depression could be linked to a DHA deficiency — just one more reason why it?s so important to maintain your levels during pregnancy.

It is important to note that plant-based omega 3 fats do not provide the same benefits as animal-based, because most of us can?t convert the ALA in plant-based fats to the appropriate amount of DHA that is required.

So flax seeds, walnuts, and other plant sources of omega-3 should not be substituted for animal omega-3s. You simply will not receive the same benefits because they are not metabolized as efficiently. You will ultimately be relatively deficient in DHA and EPA if you rely completely on plant sources of omega-3, which have no EPA and DHA and must rely on your body to make the conversion of the ALA to the higher carbon chain fats.

3 Comments

  1. Heck yeah bay-bee keep them cimong!

    • admin

      Glad they are working for you. For more helpful information, I have added an opt-in box for a free PDF report and five videos that will follow shortly. You can access them at Chappell Chiropractic Wellness Center’s website, http://www.chappellhealth, and go to the opt-in box on the right. These will give you a primer on daily activities and habits that are robbing us of our health and energy.

      • Mike: I highly recmomend reading Chris Masterjohn’s latest article on essential fatty acids: Precious yet Perilous.The vast majority of the studies done that have shown a benefit have been short-term, lasting less than one year. The only trial lasting more than four years, the DART 2 trial, showed a 15% increase in total mortality and a 30% increase in heart disease risk. A 2004 Cochrane meta-analysis of trials lasting longer than six months suggests that the cardiovascular benefits of fish oil have been dramatically over-stated. They analyzed 79 trials overall, and pooled data from 48 trials that met their criteria. The only effect that could be distinguished from chance was a reduced risk of heart failure. Fish oil provided no reduction in total or cardiovascular mortality. N-3 LCFA is HIGHLY vulnerable to oxidative damage. When fat particles oxidize, they break down into smaller compounds, like malondialdehyde (MDA), that are dangerous because they damage proteins, DNA, and other important cellular structures.A lot of research shows that intake of n-3 LCFA increases oxidative damage. A study by Mata et al (PMID: 8911273) showed clearly that oxidation increased as n-3 intake increased. A randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled trial likewise showed that six grams per day of fish oil increased lipid peroxides and MDA in healthy men, regardless of whether they were supplemented with 900 IU of vitamin E. (PMID: 9168460).So, while the GISSI trials and DART-1 suggested that fish oil may prevent arrhythmia in patients with chronic heart failure and patients who have recently survived a heart attack, there is no evidence that healthy people benefit from taking fish oil or that doses higher than one gram of omega-3 fatty acids per day provide any benefit over smaller doses. And then there’s the rather disturbing results of the DART-2 trial, which is the longest study yet done on fish oil supplementation, showing an increase in total mortality and heart disease.It’s perfectly logical to assume that the effects of oxidative damage would take a while to manifest, and would increase as time goes on. That’s likely the reason we see some benefit in short-term studies (as n-3 displace n-6 in the tissues), but the opposite effect in the longer-term studies (as increased total PUFA intake causes more oxidative damage).In my opinion this highlights the danger of isolated nutrient studies, which unfortunately is the focus of nutritional research today. The fish oil craze is based on early observations that the Inuit had almost no heart disease, and it was assumed their high intake of marine oils produced this benefit. While this may be true, at least in part, what was overlooked is that the Inuit don’t consume marine oils in isolation. They eat them as part of a whole-food diet that also includes other nutrients which may help prevent the oxidative damage that otherwise occurs with such a high intake of fragile, n-3 PUFA.That is why the best approach is to dramatically reduce intake of n-6 LA, and then eat a nutrient-dense, whole-foods based diet that includes fatty fish on a fairly regular basis. This mimics our ancestral diet and is the safest and most sane approach to meeting our n-3 LCFA needs which as Chris Masterjohn points out, are much lower than commonly assumed.More is not always better, despite our tendency to believe it is.

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