[dropcap]T[/dropcap]OKYO – The health benefits of fish as a rich source of omega-3 are already well known, but a new Japanese study has now found further evidence to suggest that adequate consumption of omega-3 when pregnant can have a beneficial effect on the child’s development.
Here’s why ?
The fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3 are both essential nutrients for the body, however in today’s modern world rather than eat a balance of the two our diets normally include an excess of omega-6 and too little omega-3, of which fish is a great source.
Earlier research on the intake of omega oils during pregnancy has already shown the importance of a diet with balanced levels of both of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids for improved brain function in children, however until now the reason why was unknown.
To research further, a team from Tohoku University’s School of Medicine in Japan fed an ‘unbalanced’ diet rich in omega-6 but low in omage-3 to pregnant female mice. When the female’s offspring were born the researchers noticed that not only did they have a smaller brain, but the offspring showed abnormal emotional behaviour and higher anxiety levels in adulthood, even though they were fed a nutritionally optimal and omega-6 and omega-3 balanced diet from a young age.
Looking at the results Professor Noriko Osumi, the study’s lead author, now believes this abnormal brain behaviour was caused by the premature ageing of foetal neural stem cells, the cells which produce brain cells, as a result of an imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
The team concluded that an excessive consumption of omega-6 by the mother while pregnant, with too low an intake of omega-3, can have long-lasting effects on the offspring’s mental state, with the results of the study suggesting that more a more balanced intake of omega-3 and omega-6 is key for expecting mothers to improve their children’s health.
The findings were published in the journal Stem Cells.