Spirulina and Pregnancy – How to boost you baby IQ and attention spans?
What a wonderful adventure to have a baby. When women are expecting, there is a lot going on and put the right nutritious foods in your body in a very important one to make sure your baby has everything he or she needs to develop as nature intended it, this is why spirulina and pregnancy works well together.
But with so much info available, it is sometimes difficult to understand what a pregnant women should prioritize. In this article we’ll talk about spirulina and pregnancy and how spirulina can help to boost you baby IQ and attention spans.
The good fatty acids… we hear about them almost every day. But what are they exactly and why are they especially important for pregnant and lactating women?
Spirulina and pregnancy – Fatty Acids
Both omega-3 (ω-3) and omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acids are important components of cell membranes and are precursors to many other substances in the body such as those involved with regulating blood pressure and inflammatory responses.
- Linoleic Acid (LA) is the parent fatty acid of the Omega-6 family and is commonly found in vegetable oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, rapeseed oil and soya oil. Evening Primrose Oil is a member of the Omega-6 family.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the parent of the Omega-3 family and predominantly comes from green leafy vegetables and some vegetable oils (flax, rape and soya), while the longer chain members of the Omega-3 series are predominantly found in fish and fish oils.
A healthy person will convert ALA into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and later into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Breast milk contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA concentrations in breast milk is about 0.34%. During pregnancy, developing babies rely on their mothers to get the very much needed DHA. Since DHA is derived from the foods we eat, the content of DHA in a mother’s diet determines the amount of DHA passed on to her developing baby. Unfortunately, the majority of pregnant women in the U.S. fail to get the recommended amount of DHA in their diets and DHA is not found in most prenatal vitamins.
Why do pregnant and lactating women, who so critically need DHA, find it difficult to get the recommended amount of this crucial nutrient in their diets?
There are two primary reasons:
- First, during pregnancy the daily requirements of DHA increase from 220 mg to somewhere between 300 and 1,000 mg (depending on which expert you consult).
- Second, DHA isn’t easy to get in your diet — especially when you are pregnant. Significant amounts of DHA are found in animal organ meats, fatty fish and spirulina. Not the typical menu for most pregnant or lactating women! Liver does not hold mass appeal and we’re told to limit our intake of fish due to concerns over toxins. No wonder a recent study of 112 pregnant or lactating women found that fewer than 2 percent met the FDA’s current guidelines for adequate daily DHA consumption.
I think this is really alarming, especially when you know how important fatty acids and DHA are important for the baby! So spirulina and pregnancy work well together to increase your DHA levels.
Current research suggests adequate levels of DHA may help increase a developing baby’s cognitive functioning, reduce the risk of pre-term labor and decrease the risk of postpartum depression.
Consider the following:
- A 2003 study published in the journal Pediatrics showed children whose mothers took a DHA supplement during pregnancy scored higher on intelligence tests at four years of age than children of mothers not taking DHA supplements.
- A 2004 study published in Child Development found that babies whose mothers had high blood levels of DHA at delivery had advanced attention spans into their second year of life. During the first six months of life these infants were two months ahead of babies whose mothers had lower DHA levels.
- Other research studies suggest breastfed babies have IQs of six to 10 points higher than formula-fed babies. Medical and nutritional experts attribute this difference to the DHA infants receive while nursing.
- In a trial of women receiving DHA supplementation during the third trimester, the average length of gestation increased six days (Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2003).
Research has found low levels of DHA in mother’s milk and in the red blood cells of women with postpartum depression (Journal of Affective Disorders, 2002). Some scientists believe increasing levels of maternal DHA may reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
Martek Biosciences Corporation announced a few years ago that a study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, showed that five-year-old children whose mothers received a 200mg dose of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for the first 4 months of breastfeeding performed better on a test of sustained attention than those whose mothers received a placebo. DHA is an essential fatty acid naturally present in breast milk, and a key building block of the developing infant’s brain and visual system. American women’s breast milk levels of DHA are among the lowest in the world because of low DHA intake in the diet. Supplementation of DHA during breastfeeding elevates these levels.
In a study conducted by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, 174 mothers received either dietary supplements of DHA or a placebo. Their breastfed children were assessed for several visual and mental functions at 4, 8, 12, 18, 30 and 60 months of age. The researchers report that at 60 months, or 5 years of age, the children whose mothers received DHA for the first 4 months of breastfeeding demonstrated an attention advantage, using the Sustained Attention Subtest of the Leiter International Performance Scale. The same researchers had earlier reported (April 2001) that the children whose mothers received DHA supplementation demonstrated enhanced psychomotor development at 30 months of age. The researchers did not notice similar effects on psychomotor development at 5 years leading them to conclude that the earlier results may reflect more sustained attention rather than better motor function.
Spirulina and pregnancy
So if you are breast feeding or pregnant, don’t wait! Either adjust your diet to make sure you eat enough food that contains DHA or eat spirulina. Did you know that spirulina contains a lot of DHA, about 14.5 mg/kg! This is why spirulina and pregnancy walk hands in hands, so go get some spirulina today. But make sure you get the best quality possible! Check this post if you are new with spirulina and wonder if they are any contraindications or side effect. Read this post if you wonder if you should buy organic spirulina.
If you are nursing, I recommend reading this article about the benefits of taking spirulina while nursing. And I’m sure that after reading the long list of health benefits, you’ll decide to take spirulina even if you’re not nursing!
Are you pregnant or breast feeding and taking your daily dose of spirulina? Do you also think that spirulina and pregnancy work well together? Leave a comment below!