|I'm a big advocate of fish oil. It's one of the best and safest supplements on the market. In fact, a new study says fish oil is great for a group of people who are particularly sensitive to negative effects from drugs and even supplements.
That group of people is pregnant moms and their babies. If fish oil is safe and beneficial for this group, then you can bet it's safe and beneficial for you.
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According to this study, fish oil will decrease the chance of having a premature baby, and at the same time cut the hospital stay for premature babies by a full month. Fish oil contains DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). And the human brain is almost 50% DHA. Developing babies obviously need to have optimal amounts of it. Researchers have linked higher blood levels of DHA to higher IQs in children, lower incidence of cognitive disorders and ADHD, improved eyesight, and better heart function. If it's that important for children, it must be even more critical for developing babies. At least that's what researchers in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center recently discovered.
They wanted to know the effect of supplementing women with DHA during their pregnancy. So they enrolled 350 women who were less than 20 weeks pregnant. Half of the women took 600 mg per day of DHA until they delivered. The other half took a placebo. Here's what the researchers found.
The babies whose mothers were taking the real thing had a lower chance of being delivered prematurely. They also weighed six ounces more, were taller, and had a greater head circumference. All of these findings are associated with better newborn baby scores.
Even when the DHA babies did arrive earlier, their overall health was dramatically better. The determination for this is how long they had to stay in the hospital before they could go home. The premature placebo babies had to stay in the hospital for an average of 40.8 days. The premature DHA babies stayed for an average of one month less - 8.9 days. The authors also pointed out that, "No safety concerns were identified."
You don't have to eat fish to have an adequate level of DHA in your body. All humans are blessed with the capability to make DHA from the vegetables they eat. But here's the problem. All humans are also different. And while some can make all the DHA they need without ever needing to eat fish or take fish oil supplements, many cannot.
How can you tell if you're making enough DHA? It's not hard. Just ask your doctor to run a blood level test. If you are in the upper end of the range, you'll be just fine without the need to take the supplement. It's also safe for pregnant moms and the baby. But why not just take the supplement? At the 600 mg per day dose the researchers used, it's perfectly safe - no matter your age. There's nothing to lose even if you don't need it.
Moms of newborns should stay on the fish oil supplement while breast feeding. It's also a good idea to start supplementing your baby when he's weaned. Remember that a child's brain mass increases an average of three-and-a-half times between the time he is born and five years of age. And recently published research suggests that for children ages 7-9, who are underperforming in reading, 600 mg of DHA daily improves reading, memory, and behavior scores.
I use Complete Daily Oils fish oil from Advanced Bionutritionals. And unless your child eats plenty of fish, make sure to mix one capsule in his foods every day. Mixing it with lemon juice will make the taste less fishy.
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