Mercury And Omega-3s
When a woman becomes pregnant, her body enters an entirely new dimension of physiology. The nutritional demands of a growing baby require an increase in fat, protein and calories to make sure the baby develops properly and is healthy. If the nutritional needs of both mother and baby are not met, particularly when it comes to fat, then both members of the equation suffer.
Important Of Fat
The fat that is necessary for proper fetal development is omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Adequate intake during pregnancy has shown to lower the risk of preterm birth and lower the risk of post-postpartum depression in new mothers. Inadequate intake of omega-3s by a mother has been associated with child-onset type 1 diabetes, verbal and developmental delays, and behavioral problems in children.
The Right Kind Of Fat
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are essential fatty acids, which means they are not produced by the body and must therefore be obtained through diet. Fat is vitally important to the making of brain and eye tissue as well as cell membranes. The quality and type of fat a pregnant woman ingests sets the foundation for development of nerve cells and cell manufacture. All mammals depend upon DHA for the development of the central nervous system. The baby’s brain grows intensively during the last trimester of pregnancy and in the first months after birth, so s/he depends on a continual supply of DHA and another acid called arachiodonic acid (AA).
The baby receives omega-3 fatty acid from the mother’s supply during pregnancy. It comes primarily from her brain and is moved through her system to the placenta where it nourishes the baby. If a pregnant woman is not getting enough omega-3s she will feel depleted and could suffer greatly from post-postpartum depression after her baby is born.
Fish is one of the best sources of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. Cold water and deep-sea fish have high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. However, due to ongoing and severe water pollution, especially by coal plants, most of the world’s fish population is contaminated with methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is a neurotoxin. It is responsible for neurological damage, developmental delays and learning deficits in children when ingested by a pregnant mother, or eaten in the diet by young children. There are some sources of seafood that are lower in mercury than others, and can be eaten more frequently than those that have high levels of mercury. The most dangerous on the list of mercury infected fish are shark, swordfish, sea bass, tilefish, and tuna steaks.
There Are Other Options
It can be very challenging to get enough uncontaminated fish into the diet. Mercury calculators are available to help determine the level of mercury there is in any particular fish. The good news is that a pregnant woman can get good quality omega-3s from sources other than fish. Using fish oil supplements that are high in DHA is a good way to make sure omega-3 levels are healthy. Flax seed oil and walnuts are other good sources of omega-3s .However, they have only about one fifth of the omega-3s that fish do.