Omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA, are classified as “essential” fatty acids—indicating their necessity in the human diet. These crucial nutrients play a pivotal role in our biological makeup as they serve as integral structural components of cellular membranes. Notably, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is most concentrated in neurons and the retina.
While all individuals share a fundamental need for these fatty acids, they hold particular significance for mothers and children. Omega-3s possess properties that help support many aspects of health—including fetal development, immune system function, heart health, brain development, eye development, nervous system development, cardiovascular development and function.
Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into one's diet is not merely a dietary preference; it is a necessity for overall health and well-being (especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding).
However, meeting recommended levels of Omega 3 fatty acids through diet alone can be challenging due to limited dietary sources, which is why supplementation is key. Read on for more on the benefits of Omega-3s for women and children—and the best way to meet the recommended levels.
Benefits of Omega-3s for Women and Children
A mother's diet during pregnancy exerts long-lasting effects on the health of offspring. Optimal fetal development birth is dependent on many essential nutrients—including Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)—that are obtained from dietary sources.
It's worth noting that the human body is incapable of producing these essential omega-3 fatty acids on its own. As a result, we must rely on external sources, such as diet or supplementation, to ensure that both the mother and the developing baby receive an adequate supply of DHA and EPA.
Omega-3 fatty acids offer a multitude of benefits for women, particularly during pregnancy. Adequate intake of these essential nutrients supports mood, hormone and brain function for women and mothers, as well as supporting fetal brain and nervous system development.
Support Neural Development
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for children's growth and development, particularly in the areas of brain function, memory, learning, and attention.
Of particular importance is Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), which is an important structural component of cell membranes—especially in the central nervous system and retina. DHA is found abundantly in parts of the brain responsible for behavioral development, problem-solving, planning, and sustained attention.
The Omega-3 fatty acid continuously accumulates in the fetal brain through gestation but is most active during the last trimester of pregnancy up to around 2 years of age—when the baby's brain is growing rapidly .
And considering the circulating DHA concentrations and the maternal DHA intake are significant determinants of fetal blood concentrations of DHA, adequate consumption of omega-3s is vitally important during pregnancy and lactation to support the health and development of the baby and mother.
While the health benefits of DHA and Omega-3s for neural development are most pronounced during early life, consuming adequate levels may also support the mother's brain health by stimulating the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF) and supporting the production of a compound called Synaptamide, among other effects that support healthy neurogenesis, learning, memory, and neuron function   .
Promoting Healthy Visual Development
DHA plays a crucial role in various functions of the eye—including the activation of a membrane protein called rhodopsin, which impacts the thickness, fluidity, and permeability of our eye membranes .
The accretion of DHA in membranes of the central nervous system is required for the optimum development of retina and brain functions during early life. This is part of the reason infant formulas are generally fortified/supplemented with DHA to support visual acuity .
Early birth—defined as birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy -- is a global health priority, and optimizing the levels of DHA may be an important avenue to support healthy immune responses during pregnancy, as well as brain and nervous system development .
Other Benefits of Omega-3s for Women and Kids
Beyond pregnancy, omega-3s offer numerous benefits for the overall health of women and children. The nutrients support a healthy inflammatory response, mood, cholesterol ratios, mitochondrial function, DNA function, mood, cardiovascular health, IQ and academic performance, and sleep.
Omega-3s for IQ and Academic Performance
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, play a crucial role in the development of children's brains and cognitive abilities. Adequate omega-3 intake is associated with beneficial effects on learning, memory, and attention in children.
For example, a study by researchers at Oxford University found that supplementing children with 600 mg of DHA (from algal oil) daily for 4 months improved their reading age by 3 weeks more than the placebo group and by 1.9 months for those in the bottom 10% for literacy .
Omega-3s for Sleep Quality
Sleep is essential for both women and children as it affects growth, immunity, memory, learning, emotional regulation, and general health.
Studies have found that lower blood levels of DHA are associated with poor sleep quality and duration in children—while supplementing with omega-3s can promote quality sleep .
According to a study in the Journal of Sleep Research, omega-3 fatty acids may promote better sleep in children by stimulating healthy melatonin production .
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles. By supporting healthy melatonin and promoting good sleep quality, omega-3s can also indirectly benefit other aspects of health, such as immune function and cognitive performance.
Omega-3s for Cardiovascular Health
Omega-3 fatty acids support heart health in women and children by supporting healthy blood pressure, inflammatory response, and lipid profiles .
One of the main ways omega-3 fatty acids promote your heart health is by supporting healthy levels of triglycerides—a type of fat in your blood that serves as an important biomarker for cardiovascular health . This is especially important for women since triglyceride levels may be dysregulated during pregnancy, after menopause, or when taking birth control pills.
With this in mind, elevating your intake of these omega-3 fatty acids could be a pivotal step in promoting cardiovascular health.
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Omega-3s for Immune Health
Studies have suggested that omega-3 exposure during pregnancy and early infancy may encourage healthy allergic sensitization, support a healthy inflammatory response, and positively influence several markers of immunity . According to a 2017 study in the Journal Nutrients, consuming omega-3-rich foods or supplements during pregnancy is "associated with immunologic changes in cord blood, and such changes may persist" .
Omega-3s for Mood and Emotional Well-Being
Mood dysregulation during pregnancy and after childbirth can have a profound impact not only on the mother's mental and emotional well-being—but also on her child's cognitive development and behavior.
Omega-3s support healthy inflammatory responses and scavenge harmful free radicals. These properties encourage healthy levels of brain chemicals involved in emotion and mood  .
This suggests that omega-3 supplements could be a natural, effective, and safe avenue to nurture the mental and emotional well-being of women and children.
Omega-3s for Hormone Health and Balance
Hormone health is a cornerstone of overall well-being for women and humans in general. Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate various aspects of your health, such as growth, metabolism, reproduction, mood, and stress.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also influence your hormone production and activity by modulating the activity of hormone receptors, enzymes, and genes involved in hormone synthesis and metabolism . Some of the hormones they influence directly or indirectly include thyroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and serotonin  .
Another way that omega-3 fatty acids can help balance your hormones is by supporting a healthy inflammatory response. Excessive inflammation is linked to hormonal imbalance. By taking omega-3 supplements, you can encourage hormonal balance and promote women's overall health.
Despite these well-documented benefits, many women (and people in general) struggle to meet the recommended levels of omega-3s through diet alone.
Dietary sources of omega-3s, such as fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds, and other sources, are often difficult to eat in the quantities necessary to meet suggestions for optimal milligram consumption by humans. Around 90% of the population in the US are deficient in omega-3s.
Given that it takes an average of 1,000-2,000 mg/day of omega-3s taken over the course of weeks and months to gradually raise the omega-3 index percentage, it would take an average of 5-10 servings of salmon per week to achieve those levels. Given that salmon is often touted as the highest fish source of omega-3s, that is a lot of salmon to consume to achieve such levels. This is why we have created our algae-derived omega-3s product Algae Oil DHA.
Omega-3 Supplements for Mothers and Children
While we can obtain omega-3s from certain foods, meeting the recommended levels to support the optimal health of mothers and children is challenging due to a number of reasons—from diet preferences (vegan or vegetarian diets) to the risk of contamination (mercury toxicity) from sources like fish.
Research suggests that the intake of omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet is low. According to the primary author of a study published in Nature Communications, approximately 95% of Americans have a low omega-3 index . These statistics suggest that inadequate omega-3 intake is a common problem that may negatively affect health and well-being. Therefore, it's essential to encourage strategies that help increase DHA and omega-3 intake among women of childbearing age .
One way to bridge the nutritional gap and promote maternal/infant health outcomes is through supplementation with omega-3s. According to a 2021 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, consuming omega-3 supplements during pregnancy and lactation plays a vital role in the development of a baby's brain and nervous system . These beneficial effects may help support the child's lifelong development.
Omega-3 supplements for kids and mothers provide a convenient and effective way to ensure adequate intake–which can help support optimal growth and development. To help you achieve peak omega-3 levels, Ascent Nutrition’s CEO (Lance Schuttler) created a DHA Regimen that explains the importance of DHA at all stages of life–and also highlights a unique way to ensure you are getting nutritionally relevant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids.
Algae Oil DHA – The Best Omega-3 Supplement
While fish oil supplements have long been a popular source of omega-3s, they come with several challenges, including sustainability concerns, the potential for contaminants and toxins, and being unsuitable for people who follow vegan lifestyles.
The solution? Algae Oil DHA.
Algae Oil DHA offers an environmentally friendly, toxin-free, and vegan alternative that addresses issues associated with fish oil—making it an ideal solution for those seeking a sustainable and inclusive omega-3 supplement.
When choosing the right algae omega-3 supplement, it is essential to consider factors such as quality and third-party testing. High-quality supplements should prioritize purity and be free of contaminants.
Additionally, an effective omega-3 supplement should contain both DHA and EPA, the two primary omega-3 fatty acids responsible for the health benefits associated with omega-3 consumption.
If you're looking for the best omega-3 supplement, you might want to consider Ascent Nutrition's Algae Oil DHA. It's a unique omega-3 supplement that stands out from the rest. Here's how:
- It uses a specific wild strain of algae that is water-extracted to produce the cleanest, purest, and most concentrated DHA in the market.
- It contains 24 fatty acids to nourish the brain and body, support healthy DNA function, promote cardiovascular health, and assist in healthy mitochondrial function.
- It has 250% more DHA than fish oil per unit, which means you can get more benefits with fewer capsules.
- It is third-party tested for quality and purity (proudly displayed on our product page).
- It is suitable for people who follow vegan/vegetarian lifestyles.
- The algae oil omega-3 supplement is carefully formulated to provide a DHA-to-EPA ratio that closely mirrors the ratio found in the human brain. This ensures that you receive the maximum benefit from each dose, supporting your brain health, cognitive function, and overall vitality.
- It has a sustainable and clean growing process that allows it to offer a competitive price that beats all other algae oil products with respect to amounts of DHA per dollar.
- It has no fishy taste or smell—and even has organic, cold-pressed lemon peel added in that makes it taste great.
Ascent Nutrition's Algae Oil DHA is nature's superior source of DHA for peak omega-3 levels.
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