To start with, what are omega 3 ? Omega 3 is a polyinsatured fatty acids (PUFAs) family, it includes arachidonic acid (AA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and these acids have major role in brain function. It’s amazing that more than half of the brain is made of fat (60%). After the adipose tissue, the central nervous system has the highest lipid content of the body.
During pregnancy, specially in the 12th – 23rd weeks gestational, we detect the foetal brain development, further the DHA accumulation in it. It’s an important period, where during this perinatal phase, the neural development is established.
The dietary intake of PUFAs during pregnancy and breastfeeding period is very important for brain development as said.The accumulation of omega 3 especially for the DHA in the brain it’s well observed in the 6th month of pregnancy and during the first two years of life. An adequate intake of omega 3 will provide a better brain maturation, better neuronal development, better establishment and stabilization of synapses and finally better myelination.
The adequate intake of omega 3 during pregnancy and lactation is 1.4 g/day and for the DHA it’s 300 mg/day, and this will provide for the foetus or the newborn his needs. So the mother should consume more fish (2, 3 times / week, or if she doesn’t like to consume fish, she can take omega 3 supplements.
If the mother omega 3 intake is not met, the newborn omega 3 needs are not met also, so what we should do ? We have to give the newborn a liquid supplement of omega 3 to meet the requirements that are 0.5 g/day of omega3. To note that infants milk formulas are generally fortified in omega 3 which is very good.
In conclusion, during pregnancy or lactation, the mother should take her omega 3 needs from food or supplements, in order to provide for the foetus (pregnancy period) or her newborn (lactation period) his needs and then to have the optimal brain development.