Omega 3s Build Better Brains

In a study led by Harvard’s  Dr. Emily Oken, researchers concluded that Moms-to-be who ate fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids birthed babies with higher cognitive functions as compared to Moms who avoided seafood.

Conversely, the study also found that the amount of mercury in a woman’s body rose with the amount of fish she had consumed. Children that were exposed to these higher levels of mercury performed worse on the same cognitive tests.

WHAT?   How does that make any sense?

  • Eat fish and your kids will grow up to be a super genius.
  • Eat fish, expose your child to mercury, and he/she will grow up to be something less than a super genius.

What are we supposed to do with this nugget of science?

Based on their findings, the researchers say that it’s possible that eating Omega 3 fish could produce greater brain benefits for babies if mothers-to-be consumed seafood with lower mercury levels.

Well…thanks very much Captain Obvious.

Okay, enough sarcasm, here’s the bottom line...

Moms-to-be need to start eating fish that is high in Omega 3 fatty acids but low in Mercury content. The following charts and links should help with that.

  • Supplement with fish oils that have been labeled Pharmaceutical Grade or Molecularly Distilled. Keep in mind that it is a little like the wild west out there with fish oil supplements. You may need to do a little research and even ask a few questions.
  • The University of Guelph run International Fish Oil Standards tests fish oil supplements for their purity. Their website is here.
  • I personally use the Ascenta brand Nutra-Sea fish oil. You can enter the batch number of your purchased product in their website to see the specific third part purity report, or you can see a sample report here.

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  1. I also use Ascenta’s Nutra Sea HP product. According to the research I have done, it is the best out there. They have high quality and purity standards (you can get independant lab results on their website). They are also members of 1% for the Planet which is very cool!

  2. Or you could add an ounce (28g) of ground FLAXSEED in a banana smoothie for example. This ounce of ground flaxseed will provide 6.3g of Omega 3 and 1.6g of Omega 6.
    Add an ounce of ground SESAME SEEDS for a recommended ratio of roughly 1:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3 (healthy ratio would be 1:1 to 4:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3).
    An ounce of sesame seeds will provide 6g of Omega 6 and 0.1g of Omega 3.
    This single ounce of sesame seeds will also provide a whopping 27% of recommended daily calcium intake!!
    No mercury involved.
    Mommy, baby and fishes are all happy now 🙂

  3. It’s not so much that Omega 6 is bad, we do need omega 6. The problem is that the balance between 3 and 6 are totally out of whack.

    Some people believe the balance should be between 1:1 and 4:1 Omega 6:Omega 3.

    The current balance could be 20:1 to 100:1

    Bad stuff happens when the body is out of balance.

    Based on this, the prudent thing is to minimize you 6 by avoiding trans fats and processed foods and increasing your 3s through oily fish and supplements.

    It’s kind of sad that supplements are needed to replace food, but most of our food supply is processed and it is hard to find 3s at you local grocery store

    Canned salmon and sardines are an inexpensive way to get you 3s. Watch out for fish that has been packed in so oil or some other junk oil. water or natural oils are best.

    If you are going to go the supplement route, look for products that have been tested by a 3rd party for purity – don’t want any mercury with your 3s

    Thanks for the comment Jason

    If you want more info, google Dr. Barry Sears or Udo Erasmus (Udo is the flax oil guru)

  4. Hi,
    I would like to know how many mgs. of omega 3s you recommend that we take daily? I have seen some capsules with 1000 mg. of fish oil to 300 mg of omega 3.
    Thank you.

  5. Hi A.T.

    When it comes to dosages of fish oil supplements, I defer to those will more knowledge than I.

    One of those people is Dr. Barry Sears.

    He has an excellent book on the subject

    Dr. Sears recommends 4 grams or 1 tsp per day

    This recommendation fits with the current medical recommendations.

    Some proponents of fish oil supplementation recommend higher doses (I have seen 40g recommendations). But, you should be aware of the blood thinning and other side effects.

    Here is another science-based link

    I hope this helps – if not comment back



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