Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Should Vegan Women Supplement with DHA During Pregnancy?

Should Vegan Women Supplement with DHA During Pregnancy?

“Should Vegan Women Supplement
with DHA During Pregnancy?” A systematic review of
randomized controlled trials of DHA supplementation of pregnant
and breast-feeding women failed to find any clear and consistent
short or long-term benefit for psychomotor, mental, visual
or physical development. Maybe DHA supplementation
during pregnancy has no effect because the body isn’t stupid and
protects the growth of the baby’s brain by drawing off of maternal
stores of DHA, upregulating maternal DHA synthesis, and preferentially
shuttling it to the fetus. But what if moms don’t start out
with large maternal stores? In other words, maybe DHA
failed to help women who were already getting
enough, but maybe women with very low intakes would benefit
from DHA supplementation. Well, first it’s interesting to note
that even by 1978 researchers were suggesting plant-based
diets as the diet of choice in the treatment of our
number one killer. But babies breastfed
by vegan moms have significantly less DHA in
their bloodstream presumably because the moms had significantly
less DHA in their breast milk. The question is whether these
differences are of any consequence? The growth and development of
vegan and vegetarian children are normal, as long as they’re getting their B12. No evidence that neural or
intellectual functions are impaired. In fact the two studies we have
on vegetarian kids showed that they had higher IQ’s,
though that may have been because their parents tended
to be better educated. But even though the kids seemed fine,
that doesn’t rule out the possibility that there may be some
subtle differences in visual or neural
functioning. It would be interesting to compare
the function of babies getting vegan breast milk levels versus
general population levels. You can see vegans had 14,
vegetarians 30, omnivores 37. This study compared zero
to 32, 64, and 96, and 32 worked better than zero, but
more than 32 didn’t add anything. This could explain why the general
population at 37 doesn’t benefit from additional DHA supplementation. But what about down at 14? Most studies down at that level
showed no advantage over zero, though one study found a benefit
supplementing at as low as 5, but that doesn’t help us. Now just because babies
breastfed by vegan moms have significantly lower DHA
levels in the blood doesn’t necessarily mean they
have lower levels in their brain, which is where it counts. What we need is a randomized,
controlled trial in non-fish eaters of DHA supplementation. Until then,
it’s going to remain uncertain. So what should pregnant
and breastfeeding women who avoid fish do
in the meanwhile? Low intakes of DHA
doesn’t necessarily equate with fetal DHA inadequacy, but this new data suggests that some
infants may not be getting enough and could benefit from
their moms supplementing. And so I recommend pregnant
and breastfeeding women on plant-based diets do follow
the consensus guidelines to get about 200mg of preformed DHA
from an uncontaminated source like algae oil, which is probably
the best combination for all women given the state of our world,
to minimize exposure to toxic pollutants such as
dioxins, PCBs, and mercury.

22 comments on “Should Vegan Women Supplement with DHA During Pregnancy?

  1. this argument is ridiculous DHA is processed through the fish from the algae they eat you can buy DHA extracted from algae so the argument is a moot point of whether or not you should be leaving or not DHA has been shown many times do have a huge effect on postpartum depression in the mom

  2. Could you do a video about the omega 3 to 6 ratio? I've read things about how the closer the ratio, the better your body can use and store omega 3.

  3. Hearing Dr Greger speak is so soothing, especially when he gives you so much knowledge. His words are reassuring hahaha!

  4. Doesn't flax seed have omega 3 ?!? Cz dr greger recommends 1 tbs a day or that's another type of omega 3 😰😰😰

  5. Will you do a video on athletes feet? my entire family suffers from it and I'm wondering if a plant based diet would help them. Or does anyone know if he already has a video on this topic???

  6. So it does not help heart or brain according to latest studies. Is it still good for inflammation in general? Good for anything or should we just quit taking?

  7. Also since DHA is useless, I'm guessing all that stuff about the ratio has nothing to do with supplementation and everything to do with omega balance in a whole food diet. So confused.

  8. I know you wanted to say so badly that Vegans don't need any additional DHA during pregnancy, but you had to tell the truth at the end. Kudos

  9. I became a HCLF vegan in November 2014. It was the best thing that I have done to myself. My inspiration was Freelee, the banana girl. Before then, I have a history of severe eating disorder (bulimia + anorexia + BED) since 2002. I thought I had food addiction – hence joined a 12 step program in 2010 which promoted mostly non-vegan foods as well as weighing and measuring of every food. Additionally, we had to abstain from all forms of sugar, wheat, and flour.

    Needless to say that I had all kinds of health issues ranging from hormonal imbalances to back aches. One such health issue was having no menstrual cycle (naturally) for almost 12 years. But I got back my periods within a month of going HCLF vegan and kept having those at regular intervals since then (and surely I have recovered from my eating disorder). But from February 2016 I am missing my cycle again. Thus, I have decided to go for a medical check up.

    I am 38 year old female. I am 5'3" tall.I have stopped weighing myself for a very long time (following Freelee's advice). So, I cannot tell you my exact weight. But I think I have become leaner since I changed my lifestyle. I was eating 2100 to 2300 calories until few days ago. Now I eat at least 2500 calories every day. Mostly raw till 4, but sometimes starch solution. I exercise almost everyday that includes 3/4 miles of power walking (Leslie Sansone videos from YouTube).

    Could you please help me with figuring out what might went wrong that I am "late" again. Also please let me know if there is any particular test/s I should go for in my next medical check up. I apologize for the inconvenience.Your advice is appreciated. Thank you.

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