Pregnancy & Nutrition. Which Is Best For A Child’s IQ; Fish Or Fish Oil?:
Awhile back, I contacted The Charismatic Voice, because I heard the great news that Elizabeth was going to have a baby!
I wanted to pass-on what info I had here about both fish and nuts and the positive effects they have on kids development,
-Not that her child will actually need them that much. Because Elizabeth is so brainy, she’ll undoubtedly pass-on those smarts to The Charismatic Baby!
But unfortunately in-keeping with a few of the recent cautions on The Mediterranean Diet, there is both a problem and a solution…
The Short Answer:
- Studies report some foods as increasing a baby’s IQ, but you have to be careful.
- A recent study on The -Organic- Mediterranean Diet presents a key idea.
- Good ideas are a start, but caution helps you get the best results.
- Subjects on an organic Mediterranean Diet were found to have 90% less pesticides in their systems.
- Eating organic during pregnancy is very important.
- Babies who were exposed to organo-phosphate pesticides from food were found to have IQs 7 points lower.
- Similar to traditional vs. organic food, certain fish can have contaminants.
- This makes it difficult for pregnant moms to eat fish regardless of the association with higher children’s IQs.
- Studies have found a great way to get the IQ benefit of fish with much less contaminants is to take Fish Oil.
- The results on children’s intelligence are even more robust than for those of nut-consumption and are still measurable at age 10.
- What if you could get the benefits of the EPA & DHA in fish oil by instead taking Organic Flax Oil, which may have even lower levels of contaminants?
- You may have to take a little bit more to get the same amount of EPA & DHA, but it may be worth it.
- Wild-caught salmon from certain regions appear to be safer than farm-raised salmon in terms of PCBs and Dioxin-Like Compounds.
- Unfortunately, 50% of the world’s salmon supply comes from fish-farms.
- Of the larger, carnivorous fish, wild-caught salmon appears to be lower in mercury than shark, swordfish, tuna, and king mackerel.
- Still, some researchers advise so much caution that they suggest avoiding Atlantic salmon altogether.
- They also recommend eating Pacific wild-caught salmon a maximum of 1x/month.
Read on to find out the details…
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The Norwegian Study On The Mediterranean Diet Is The Key:
You see, the recent piece out by a Norwegian team showed that if you follow the Mediterranean Diet,
You can end up getting a whole lot of pesticides because of the fruit & vegetable components of that plan.
That team also demonstrated something that may have been at-issue for awhile:
Even though farmers -can- absolutely use pesticides on organic produce,
Does that mean they use more in-total?
Well the Oslo work suggests strongly in-favor of the answer being: No.
Their subjects showed a 90% reduction in pesticide-exposure when shifting over to an organic Mediterranean Diet as opposed to not.
Eating Organic During Pregnancy Can Make A Big Difference Later-On:
So then, the prior research on eating organic during pregnancy becomes that much more important.
Because that work showed that babies exposed to organo-phosphate pesticides through food had a noticeable impact on their IQ as a result of it.
A deficit of as much as 7 points!
And that brings us around to the problem from before.
Because it turns out that fish from farms have been shown recently to have elevated levels of certain contaminants in them compared to their wild counterparts!
So then how do you suggest to a charismatic mom-to-be that she should eat fish to raise the IQ of her baby, when the pesticides and pollutants in that fish could end up having the opposite effect?
And is wild-caught fish the “organic” equivalent in aquaculture?
Well some new work came out that suggests a bit of a hedge.
Is There Such A Thing As “Organic” Fish, Or Is There Something Else?:
And as you might have guessed from the title, if you’re not rolling the dice on the “organic” version of fish (which may have its own shortcomings),
Then how about… ::drumroll please::…Fish Oil!
Because, there may be a very good chance your fish oil is filtered; for more than one type of contaminant!
And if you get a good brand, sometimes even tested for purity and potency.
The good folks over at Labdoor.com are all over this and you can find several rated there in ways the FDA still doesn’t take care of, because: supplements.
And the current study by European researchers shows that children of mothers who took fish oil during pregnancy do in-fact do better on intelligence tests.
-Especially for complex task completion and maintaining attention.
These results are even better than the Spanish research on nuts, because these were observed 2 years later, at the age of 10!
So Fish Oil Is A Great Substitute, But What If We Go Further?:
Many sources suggest that getting a really good brand of fish oil might be an even better way to get the benefits of eating fish without the risks.
But what if we take this one step further?
If Fish Oil is safer than the fish itself, then why not get an oil that’s even safer than that, and may do about the same thing?
The studies on the children are there for an oil that has Omega 3, EPA, and DHA,
So what about Organic Flaxseed Oil instead? -Like Barlean’s?
Now there is a conversion factor that means there is less EPA & DHA in flax oil, so you get a little less of those and it’s not a perfect exchange.
But either way you get your Omega 3s, and have a little less need to trust the producer’s efforts to filter out the contaminants that affect fish!
The best of both worlds!
A Wrap-Up Of The Logistics Around Fish Consumption, Esp. For Moms:
To recap on fish-consumption.
Both types seem to have contamination, but existing data suggests that some wild-caught fish do have lower levels of PCB contamination.
On the other side of that, they can be contaminated with some mercury that binds to the flesh, if they’re high up on the food-chain and accumulate it.
Other pointers from safety-watchdogs like the EPA and the EWG include:
1) Eat smaller & younger fish that will have fewer contaminants
1a) Bias toward eating those lower on the food chain that are non-carnivorous.
2) Don’t eat bottom-feeding fish
3) Stay away from larger fish, even if they’re wild-caught like Swordfish, Shark, Tuna, and King Mackerel
4) Try to find the label that shows -both- where the fish was caught, and also where it was packed.
4a) Fish both caught and packed in the US are generally considered safer.
5) The EPA recommends taking the skin & exterior fat off the fish because it can hold many of the pollutants, like PCBs and dioxins in farmed salmon.
5a) They also recommend either severely-limiting or eliminating use of fat drippings from that skin in cooking or sauces.
5b) If you can cook the fish in a way that the fat drips off of it, like broiling, grilling, or baking, then so much the better.
6) If there is any question about the safety of the waters the fish were caught in, it’s probably safer for pregnant women & children just to avoid it.
7) Notable among the pollutants considered hazardous to women are PCBs, which are between 5-10x higher in farm-raised fish, because of their feed.
7a) Contamination standards are much older & more lax for farm-raised fish than they are for wild-caught fish.
7b) The former are governed by FDA standards from 1984, the latter from the EPA with standards from 1999.
7c) Salmon is by-far the most popular fish and 50% of the world’s supply comes from farms.
8) The Foran study from 2005 suggests North American and South American farmed-salmon are lower in some contaminants than European.
8a) That study found Pacific wild-caught salmon from Oregon, British Columbia, and Alaska were the lowest of all regions tested.
9) To be as safe as one could possibly be and still eat it, that same study recommended eliminating Atlantic salmon consumption altogether and restricting even Pacific salmon consumption to 1x/month.
The Result Is A Conundrum, But Caution Can Solve It:
So as with many things, it’s a bit of a conundrum.
Fish can help according to some studies, but it clearly has to be -the right fish- from the right place.
Especially since salmon has absolutely taken-off in popularity.
So perhaps with a combination of several Omega-3 sources like Fish Oil, Flaxseed Oil, or even Nuts,
In-addition to the safest fish from the safest sources, cooked in the safest ways,
New moms can try to thread the needle on a nutrition source that should really be a lot less complicated than it is.
Check out the links, especially the absolute Mega-Post deep-dive on contaminants in farm-raised salmon by the EWG. -WOW!
References & Links:
• Source: Cordis
• More Coverage: EPA – Fish Safety Brochure | EWG Farmed Salmon MegaPost | LabDoor Fish Oil Safety MegaPost! | Oceans Alive 2005 Fish Oil Safety Tests [Archive]
• Source Studies:
•Early Nutrition.. – Effect of N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation in Pregnancy: The Nuheal Trial
•EnvHlthPrsp – Risk-Based Consumption Advice for Farmed Atlantic and Wild Pacific Salmon Contaminated with Dioxins and Dioxin-like Compounds
•J.Toxicol – Environmental Chemical Contaminants in Food: Review of a Global Problems
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