More and more physicians are recognizing the importance of the omega 3s EPA and DHA during pregnancy and recommending them to their patients. While this is welcome news to me, I have found that most women are never told about the importance of continuing supplementation well into motherhood.
A Positive Prospect
Given the Standard American Diet, it is no surprise that studies show that the majority of American women coming into pregnancy are deficient in the crucially important omega 3 DHA. This deficiency worsens during pregnancy as the placenta supplies the fetus with DHA from mom’s tissue. It also persists 9-12 months postpartum, and gets even worse with multiple pregnancies. Even if you eat a healthy whole-foods diet, it is very challenging to get enough omega 3s through diet alone, particularly when you consider that we don’t reliably convert the short-chain omega 3s from plants to the long-chain omega 3s EPA and DHA, which are so essential to health. This explains why supplementing with fish oil or algae oil is a must.
DHA is generally known as the most important omega 3 for pregnancy because it is a critical building block of the brain, retina, and nervous system. A growing number of studies in both human infants and animals show a correlation between omega-3 intake—especially DHA—and cognitive and visual function, as well as overall brain development.
Supplementing For Success
If breastfeeding is not an option, I always advise giving your baby his or her own DHA supplement. I recommend Nordic Naturals Baby’s DHA, which surpasses the highest quality standards available and comes in an easy-to-use liquid with simple dosing instructions by weight.
DHA is as important for postpartum mom as it is for baby. Supplementation helps to replenish precious brain stores of DHA that have been depleted during pregnancy.
EPA is also critically important. It has been shown to support a healthy mood, and studies suggest it supports a healthy postpartum mood in particular. Many women are troubled by mood challenges after giving birth. While there are many potential interventions for postpartum mood changes, I recommend omega-3 fish oil or algae oil as an excellent place to start, given its documented ability to support positive mood and well-being during the postnatal period, and throughout life.
I recommend omega-3 fish or algae oil during the postnatal period for the same reasons that I recommend fish oil to all adult women—heart health, brain and cognitive function, joint health, eye health, healthy skin and hair, and a healthy immune response.
Fish oil has also been shown to support optimal fat metabolism and body composition—a topic of importance for many new moms. However there was uncertainty for many women about whether they should continue taking their prenatal omegas after childbirth. I was extremely excited last year when Nordic Naturals came out with Postnatal Omega-3, containing 1,120 mg of EPA and DHA per two-soft-gel serving. It also contains 1,000 IU vitamin D3 for immunity, bone health, and additional mood support.
I choose Nordic Naturals for my patients, and for my family, because their oils are safe and effective. They have set the bar in the industry for purity and freshness. Oils are processed in an oxygen-free, nitrogen-rich environment to prevent rancidity and ensure freshness. Each batch is third-party tested for heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins, and freshness.
Not all supplements are created equal, so I encourage patients to do their homework and choose a company with the above points in mind.