Fish oil and the nursing mother

All Woman

Dear Donovan,

I just had a baby and I am on some vitamins, which include fish oil. Is this safe while nursing?

As a nursing mother it is good to be concerned about what you eat and the supplements that you take. It is very important that you do not take or eat anything that will harm you or your child.

Most experts agree that taking fish oil supplements is safe for nursing mothers. In some cases, this is even more important than eating fish, which may be contaminated with mercury and other contaminants. Not only is fish oil safe, it is also important for your baby, as fatty acids present will pass through your blood and go into the breast milk to the infant.

Fish oil contains two very important Omega 3 fatty acids, one of which is DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), and the other, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). These fatty acids usually work together, but each has its own unique benefits.

DHA has been found to support the brain, eyes, and the central nervous system. A study from the University of Kansas showed that infants whose mothers had a higher level of DHA at birth had longer attention spans and were less likely to be distracted, compared to infants with low DHA at birth.

On the other hand, EPA supports the heart, immune system and the inflammatory response. Omega 3 fatty acids are not synthesised by the body and therefore must be obtained from the diet or through supplementation. The best sources of EPA and DHA are cold water fish — salmon, tuna, sardines and herring.

A healthy intake of Omega 3 fat is also helpful for the production of substances called prostaglandins. These substances are very helpful in the controlling of blood pressure, blood clotting, nerve transmission and inflammatory allergic reactions. In addition, high doses of Omega 3s have been found to prevent mood disorders, especially after giving birth.

In a nutshell, fish oils are usually safe during breastfeeding. However, pay keen attention to the dosage and the brand of Omega 3s you use.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.

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