Future mothers are advised to eat fish during pregnancy for smarter kids, according to a new study which looked into the effect of certain diets on brain development. Nutrition is one of the most tackled subjects in the process of conceiving a child. Studies are often conflicted on their conclusions, but the most recent one suggests a modification on the FDA’s recommendations themselves.
Spanish researchers conducted a study on 2,000 women in Barcelona. The participants were followed from the moment of conception until their child reached the age of 5 years old. According to their findings, women who ate around 21 ounces (600g) of fish per week had children with higher than average intelligence and better brain health.
This included types of fish that have also been approved by the U.S. National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as healthy, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, clam and crab. According to lead author of the study, Jordi Julvez from the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, seafood is known to play an important part for brain development.
However, the observations were limited due to worries surrounding mercury content that is considered to be neurotoxic. Mothers often avoid it in fear of poisoning, and the restrictions are the harshest in the United States. As per Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations, pregnant women should not consume more than 12 ounces (340g) of fish per week.
The European Food Safety Authority, however, has a looser restriction of eating 6 to 21 ounces (150-600g) of fish per week. It seems that the latter’s margins prove to be beneficial for the brain health and intelligence of the child. According to Julvez, people are right to follow FDA recommendations, but perhaps this is one should be reconsidered. It may be beneficial for future mothers who often shy away from fish in their diets. And their children will thank them as well.
A separate Japanese study conducted a similar experiment on the effects of omega-6, found in seed oils, and omega-3, found in fish. The research implied feeding rodents with either compound, separated into two groups. The rats who were poor in omega-3 showed several issues that were related to brain. This ranged from anxiety problems to other mental health issues.
Regardless, it appears that the Standard American Diet (SAD) favors omega-6 far above omega-3, to a whopping 16:1 rate. That is potentially detrimental to the health of the population, who might be missing out on a very important compound for the brain.
According to the new study, the pregnant women who has as much as 21 ounces of fish per week saw no troubles with mercury poisoning. Their children also reaped the benefits.
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