Omega-3: The Must-Have Nutrient for Moms
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Omega-3: The Must-Have Nutrient for Moms

New research shows that the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is a crucial nutrient for pregnant or nursing women to include in their diet, either through fish or supplements.
DHA's Health Benefits

Mothers' consumption of the omega-3 fatty acid called DHA during pregnancy and breastfeeding is crucial to babies' cognitive development, confirm two recent studies at Harvard and Texas Tech universities. "While there's no official recommended daily intake, the American Heart Association advises everyone to eat fish twice a week to get health benefits," says Elisa Zied, RD, a maternal/fetal nutrition expert and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Choosing the Right Fish

Choose fish that are high in DHA but low in mercury, including fresh or canned wild salmon, sardines, and herring. (Chunk light canned tuna also contains DHA and is low in mercury.) Removing the skin reduces your exposure to PCBs. "If you don't eat fish, it will be nearly impossible to get sufficient DHA," adds Zied. In that case, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.

Originally published in Fitness magazine, February 2006.