by Tara DelloIacono Thies
Fish is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, important to well-being and the developmental health of our babies. Yet, many fish are a source of mercury and other unfortunate contaminates. Fishing also takes a toll on the environment with farm methods that leave a fishy aftertaste in our mouths.
Complicated with contaminated and poor sourced fish choices, many women are skipping out on fish all together. Our seafood-lacking diets are leading to deficiencies in DHA, an important form of omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies can not make and must be obtained through our food.
DHA is also important to your baby's developing brain and your psychiatric health. Research coming out of the most recent American Dietetic Association Annual Conference reported on studies that revealed a "no sea food diet" during pregnancy resulted in children with low verbal IQ, low social development, and poor peer interactions. Women who were DHA deficient were found to be more anxious and distressed.
Fish is one of the best sources of DHA. This leaves us with a complicated task of figuring which fish are good for our bodies and the planet. Thankfully someone has done the thinking for us and created a simple pocket tool that you can use while shopping to at the grocery store: the Seafood Watch Pocket Guide.
This is a great tool to guide you to the best choices for fish that are not contaminated and fished using sustainable methods. After referring to this guide you will see that there are a lot of good options, and you can even have some canned tuna often thought to be totally off limits.
How much omega-3 fatty acids do you need each day? The Dietary Recommended Intake for non-pregnant women is 1.1 grams per day, which can come from all three types of omega-3s' - EPA, ALA, & DHA. Pregnant and breast feeding women need an additional DHA boost of .2-.3 grams per day. You can meet your needs by eating about 6-12 ounces of fish per week.
Look for the three magic letters (DHA) on the front of the package too. Many foods such organic milk and organic yogurts are now fortifying with additional DHA omega-3 fatty acids.
In addition to all these great food sources there are some supplements both over the counter and prescription that you may want to consider:
• Nordic Naturals
• Spectrum Fish Oil
• Natelle Plus
• Citranatal 90 DHA
• Duet DHA
• Prenate DHA
Fish is a great whole food source of DHA. I hope you can now head to the fish market more informed and also enjoy a tuna sandwich once again.
Tara DelloIacono Thies, RD, is a LUNA Nutrition Strategist at Clif Bar & Company.
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