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STUDY: DHA Good for Brains
JOURNAL: Pediatrics (2003; 111:e39–44)
ABSTRACT: Women who take cod-liver oil during pregnancy and the first three months of breast-feeding are likely to have more intelligent children.
COMMENTARY: This report adds to a growing body of evidence that dietary intake of a specific fatty acid present in fish oils (docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) is needed to promote optimal brain development.
DHA, which is needed by the body for normal development of the brain and of visual function. This omega-3 fatty acid can be manufactured in the body from a precursor molecule, alpha-linolenic acid, which is present in some vegetable oils and nuts, and in small quantities in certain other foods. However, it is not clear whether infants have the capability to manufacture as much DHA as their rapidly developing nervous systems need.
Moreover, alpha-linolenic acid tends to be in short supply in the typical Western diet, potentially rendering it even more difficult for infants to obtain an adequate supply of DHA.
Therefore, a dietary supply of this fatty acid (through the mother) seems to be important for the growing fetus and infant.
I give my pregnant patients a plant based DHA source that has very little or no Vit A.