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How Fish Oil Helped Me and My Baby

Posted by Kristin Sears

May 19, 2016 2:54:55 PM
Mom in the Zone & Fish Oil

 

Find out how pure Dr. Sears' Zone OmegaRx Fish Oil can deliver mood, vision and brain function benefits to both mom and baby.

 

Many new moms find their expectations of motherhood turned upside-down, pretty much from the moment their babies enter the world. For me, it was my expectation of breast-feeding. I spent my entire pregnancy (and many years before that) taking fish oil, and my plan was to give my baby fish oil through my breast milk.

 

When nursing turned out to be about as easy as climbing Mount Everest in an evening gown and 4-inch stilettos, I turned to pumping. With all the knowledge on the benefits of fish oil I’d learned growing up, I was not about to have my son Lukas be deprived of this liquid gold. What I soon learned is that it requires a lot of energy to produce breast milk.

 

Making the Right Dietary Changes to Feed my Baby

First, I had to drink enough water to end the drought in California and add an extra five grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat to every meal. I’d compare it to what people would eat if training for a marathon (if they’re smart and don’t believe the myth of “carbo-loading”). Then I had to find the right dose of fish oil to nourish both Lukas and myself. I started with 5 grams of fish oil a day (2.5 for Lukas, 2.5 for me), then switched to 7.5 grams when I needed to combat some post-partum baby blues (more on that below).

 

There are so many benefits to giving my baby fish oil that it was absolutely worth all the effort of pumping to make sure he gets them all.

 

Benefits of Fish Oil for Baby are as Good as for Adults

 

Protects skin:
High-dose omega-3 fatty acids improve blood flow to the dermis and inhibit the enzymes that cause the breakdown of collagen and elastic structures in the dermis. 

 

My son is now 6 months old which is the youngest recommended age for using sunscreen. And with summertime approaching, it made me wonder: if the chemicals in sunscreen were unsafe for 5 month-old-babies, what makes these same chemicals safe at 6 months old? Is there a better way to protect our little ones from the sun?

 

There was a 2013 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed, “A continuous low level of chemoprevention from taking omega-3 could reduce the risk of skin cancer over an individual’s lifetime.” But I’ll leave further details on that to an expert (see Summer, Sunscreens, and Your Health). And since I’m extremely sensitive to sunlight, I’ll take some extra fish oil before outings to protect me when my SPF 100 falls short.

 

Improves brain function:
Omega-3 fatty acids aid the growth of brain cells and are critical for nerve function and control of inflammation in the brain.

Fish oil provides much needed “brain food” for babies. Their brains are at their most rapid periods of growth in the last trimester of pregnancy and the first two years after birth. According to a study in Pediatric Research, EPA and DHA from fish oil resulted in high scores in hand eye coordination tests. So eat up, Lukas.

 

Improves concentration:
Omega-3 fatty acids increase the dopamine levels leading to improved concentration and attention.  

When I was a child (in the days before my dad’s Dr. Sears OmegaRx Fish Oil), I had a hyperactive streak. One Halloween, instead of shouting “trick or treat,” I’d run into my neighbors’ houses, find their bedrooms and jump on their beds. I certainly do not want Lukas to share that same trait. Perhaps I influenced my dad when he later co-authored an article in Nutrition Journal suggesting, “That children with ADHD and a high AA/EPA ratio might be responsive to treatment with EPA and DHA.”

 

Improves vision:
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the retina and are critical to reduce inflammation in the retina.

I came across a study in the Journal of Nutrition stating that, “The impact of DHA on visual development in 6-month-old infants found that retinal and visual cortex maturation was greatly improved in infants receiving DHA-enriched egg yolk versus control infants who were deficient in DHA.” And that was just DHA from supplementing egg yolks! Imagine if it were done with EPA in addition to DHA and without the toxic arachidonic acid from the yolks.

 

Boosts mood:
Omega-3 fatty acids increase serotonin levels; useful for treating depression.

When Lukas meets new people, the most common comment I get is, “Your baby is so happy.” One mom even jokingly asked me if I was putting Lithium in my breast milk.

 

The Benefits of Increased Fish Oil Are Good for Mom too

Many other moms know first-hand how easy it is to get the baby blues (due to anything from hormones being out of whack, sleep deprivation, etc.). For me, it was adding the sadness and stress associated with losing someone close to me when my mom (and former Zone Living editor, Lynn Sears), passed away eight weeks post-partum. There was a 2014 study in Behavioral Brain Research that, suggests that “fish oil, rich in omega-3, exerts a beneficial effect on postpartum depression and decreases the biomarkers related to depression.” Without making unsubstantiated claims, I will say that I have noticed that increasing my fish oil on the advice of my dad and my doctor has really helped to keep my blues in check.

 

You put sweaters on your babies if they're cold. Why not give them something that protects them while helping them thrive? It could be wishful thinking, but already in 6 months, I’ve seen Lukas hit developmental milestones faster than his baby peers, stay healthy, and all with a mild temperament. Here’s hoping Lukas continues to reap the benefits of fish oil, and continues his lightning-speed development.

 

References:

  1. S. M. Pilkington, K. A. Massey, S. P. Bennett, N. M. Al-Aasswad, K. Roshdy, N. K. Gibbs, P. S. Friedmann, A. Nicolaou, L. E. Rhodes. Randomized controlled trial of oral omega-3 PUFA in solar-simulated radiation-induced suppression of human cutaneous immune responses. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2013; 97 (3): 646 DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.112.049494.
  2. Dunstan JA; Mitoulas LR; Dixon G; Doherty DA; Hartmann PE; Simmer K; Prescott SL. The effects of fish oil supplementation in pregnancy on breast milk fatty acid composition over the course of lactation: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatr Res 2007 Dec;62(6):689-94.
  3. Paul J Sorgi, Edward M Hallowell, Heather L Hutchins and Barry Sears. Effects of an open-label pilot study with high-dose EPA/DHA concentrates on plasma phospholipids and behavior in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Nutrition Journal, 20076:16 DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-6-16.
  4. Hoffman DR, Theuer RC, Castaneda YS, et al. Maturation of visual acuity is accelerated in breast-fed term infants fed baby food containing DHA-enriched egg yolk. J Nutr. 2004 Sep;134(9):2307-13.
  5. Arbabi L; Baharuldin MT; Moklas MA; Fakurazi S; Muhammad SI . Antidepressant-like effects of omega-3 fatty acids in postpartum model of depression in rats. Behav Brain Res 2014 Sep 1;271:65-71.

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