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The Surprising Crucial Food Pregnant Women Are Not Eating Enough

What pregnant women in western countries lack in their weekly diets, what the recommended consumption under FDA and FAO are and what directly benefits mother and child.

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The Surprising Crucial Food Pregnant Women Are Not Eating Enough

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Balanced diets are important for all stages of life but become critical for women during pregnancy. All over the world, cultures have different nutritional practices to ensure the best development of a child. Despite numerous differences, there is one ingredient that is as universal as food.

From 1990-2010, there has been a sharp decline in fish consumption in western countries. the reason for this is that In 2004. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a warning to women who are or might become pregnant to limit their seafood consumption due to mercury. Even thought the advisory has since been out of effect and out of date, the mercury scare still plagues the judgment of millennials today, including women starting a family.

The unspoken hero for the health and development of newborns and infants, ironically, is fish. Fish not only is a great source of protein and vitamin D, but have high amounts of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3s like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the key ingredients to human and fetal health for the following reasons:

1) Your baby will weigh more

Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between the amount of DHA consumed by the mother and the weight of a newborn. Concurrently, there is evidence that DHA levels are also strongly correlated to gestation period, meaning the baby will be more likely reach full term.

2) Improve visual acuity and motor skills

After a baby is born, lactating mothers are still providing the majority of the infant’s nutrition. Studies have shown that infants from mothers with higher amounts of DHA in their breast milk have exhibited improved neurodevelopment measures by demonstrating increased motor skill functions.

3) Improve social and communication skills

Numerous research support that infants with higher supplies of DHA during pregnancy had a higher development of cognitive functions and attention. If these benefits are not enough, there is also a positive correlation between high DHA levels and continual sleep patterns in infants.

There is increasing evidence of the benefits in omega-3 consumptions, in fact, it is recommended by both the FDA and FAO that a mother should consume at least 2 meals (8-12 ounces) of oily fish per week. The best choices for these essential oils are salmon, tilapia, tuna, flounder and certain mackere. However, those that are still worried about mercury or eating environmentally conscious seafood have the best alternative in aquaculture. Farm raised fish have had a terrible wrap for many misconceptions, however, ironically again, they are the best option for pregnant women as well.

Farm raised atlantic salmon have the highest amounts of omega-3s than any other seafood, including its wild counterpart. They are consistent in taste, texture, quality, produced all season long, and certifiably organic. In fact, no wild caught fish is organic. Traceability in wild caught fish is a task extremely hard to tackle and not yet triumphed where fish will absorb polluted waters unknown to the fishers and even illegally caught for profit gain. Most fish populations have suffered directly or indirectly because of the over harvest and lack of regulation or enforcement. In contrast, cultured fish has traceability down to the ingredients that the fish was fed at day 0, the environment it swims in and the method of harvest. Aquaculture is the safest and most transparent food industry in today's market.

So when you are grocery shopping for two, think about what your baby will most benefit by making more informed meal choices. For more information visit or The Harverd School of Public Health.

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