Mothers the world over want to give their babies the best start possible. That’s why they avoid alcohol, soft cheeses, and sushi and take their prenatal vitamins religiously. And now, a study published in the journal Pediatrics indicates there’s one extra protective thing expectant moms can do: take a daily omega-3 supplement.*[i]
The study followed over 800 women before and after their babies were born. The moms-to-be took a DHA supplement (400 mg) or a placebo starting when they were 18 to 22 weeks pregnant and continuing until they gave birth. They then evaluated how strong their baby’s immune health had been for the past 15 days at one, three, and six months of age.
At the one-month marker, babies of moms who took DHA were more likely to have stayed well than those born to moms who took placebos.* Even when the little ones did fall under the weather, DHA supplementation still made a difference, because the DHA babies had milder experiences compared to the placebo babies.*
Specifically, when compared to infants in the placebo group, those in the DHA group experienced better sinus and lung health — including having an easier time breathing — and they rebounded quicker from immune upsets.*
DHA is known to bolster the immune system, so it’s not surprising that infants who were exposed to DHA in utero would be protected in their earliest months.*
Looking to get more DHA into your diet? Good food sources include fatty fish such as cod, salmon, and tuna — although you’ll want to limit your intake to no more than 12 ounces of canned light tuna and other low-mercury fish (such as salmon) and no more than 6 ounces per week of fresh or canned albacore tuna to reduce your mercury exposure.
If you don’t eat fish regularly, consider daily supplementation with fish oil. Vegetarians can emphasize plant foods such as flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. They contain the omega-3 ALA, which is partially converted in the body into DHA. Flax oil is a particularly concentrated source of ALA.
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
[i] Imhoff-Kunsch B, et al. Pediatrics. 2011 Sep;128(3):e505-12.