The DHA was concentrated in the retina of the eye and is important to the visual function. DHA also facilitates communication among brain cells, an important brain function. The developing fetus depends on maternal nutrition for these fatty acids. Supplying the mother comes from the foods you eat and your own tissues.
• The AA and DHA are vital to the health of the mother to support the growth of the placenta and the developing fetus, maintaining its own tissues and produce substances such as prostaglandins, which are important in childbirth.
• AA and DHA to the fetus: The mother has two ways to provide AA and DHA to the fetus. One is made from precursor fatty acids and the other is consumed in food. In the case of AA, either option seems sufficient. The body produces AA, acid-an omega 6-series from linolenic acid, the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acids in the Western diet. Meat and fish also have some AA. In Western countries, with the type of food, there are plenty of AA for the healthy development of the fetus and young child.
• DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid is more limited for two reasons. Few foods other than fish and shellfish contain DHA and fish consumption is very low in many Western countries. Women, for example, in the USA have one of the lowest fish consumption in the world. Women, especially vegetarians, who do not eat fish and get very little DHA in their tissues are less than women who consume fish. The good news is that DHA is increasingly available through dietary supplements and foods fortified with omega-3.
Obtaining DHA from its precursor:
The second source of DHA is the conversion of the precursor, alpha-linolenic acid to DHA and EPA. However, unlike the formation of AA, these conversions are highly inefficient, with 3% or less in conversion ratio. For this reason, rely on only the supply of DHA based on the conversion by the body of alpha-linolenic acid, it can not guarantee the necessary amounts for the brain during fetal development. The best food sources of alpha-linolenic acid are flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts, and soybeans.
The developing fetus much preferred preformed fatty acids AA and DHA than their predecessors. The AA and DHA are avidly taken up by the placenta from the circulation of the mother and transmitted to the fetus. The greatest accumulation of these fatty acids occurs in the last quarter. Moreover, simply consuming more alpha-linolenic acid does not increase the level of DHA in the circulation of the mother or in breast milk.
To make matters worse, diets rich in linoleic acid (omega 6), such as most Western diets, further discourages the small conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3) in DHA.
Babies of mothers who consumed DHA regularly during pregnancy have higher levels of DHA than babies of mothers who drink little DHA. These children also have more DHA in their body fat, which provides insurance against a possible low intake after birth. The beginning of life more DHA is an advantage to the infant, whose brain grow for at least the next two years.
Mothers who breastfeed their babies provide AA and DHA in milk. The amount of AA in breast milk is fairly constant among women, but the DHA varies widely, depending on the food choices of the mother. Mothers who eat fish or consume fish liver oil during infancy have more DHA in their milk - up to 10 times more - than women who do not eat fish.
Formula fed babies get DHA and AA only formulas with these fatty acids added to them. Many formulas are now available with AA and DHA and these are preferable to those that lack them. In some cases, the amounts of DHA in infant formula, are higher than the breast milk of some women. Using food supplements formula ensures that the baby gets the fatty acids needed for the continued growth of the brain. Although it is desirable to feed the baby with breast milk as the mother from feeding these fatty acids, for example through fish liver oils, pass directly into breast milk.
Preterm infants have less body fat at birth and have had less time to accumulate AA and DHA from the mother. As a result, these children are born with less of these fatty acids are fed special formula containing AA and DHA. Once you are ready for normal infant formula, it is preferable to continue providing formula containing DHA and AA.
Age of Procreation
Women favor their own health and having a healthy pregnancy healthy eating habits. Therefore, foods rich in omega-3, particularly DHA and EPA, should be an important part of good nutrition.
Before pregnancy, women who eat fish or other foods with these fatty acids ensure their availability in the early stages of pregnancy until delivery. After birth, maintaining good nutrition meets the demands of breastfeeding and helps replenish the nutrients are reduced during pregnancy.
Women who have already had one or more children have less DHA and EPA available for a new pregnancy. It has been shown that women who have had several children have less DHA in tissues that women who have their first baby. Unless these losses are replaced by the consumption of fish and shellfish, or other sources of DHA and EPA, less of these essential fatty acids will be available for a new pregnancy.