DHA and postpartum depression - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 11-11-2003, 04:29 AM - Thread Starter
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I've recently studied a bit about omega-3 fats and baby's brain development, and wrote an article on those on my site at

I ran across info also that DHA levels are very low in women with postpartum depression.

DHA is a non-essential omega-3 fat for adults, it's abundant in the brain. The baby pulls a lot of DHA out of the mother during pregnancy and breastfeeding because it's needed for brain development.

Your body makes DHA (that's why it's non-essential) from the essential omega-3 fat ALA, which is found in flax and hemp.

But the conversion from ALA to DHA is sometimes not efficient, like if your diet has too much omega-6 fats (which standard American diet certainly does) or is lacking in some basic vitamins/minerals.

You can get DHA directly by eating oily fish, like sardines, herring, salmon, and mackerel. However, they advice against eating mackerel because mercury levels might be high in it. Smaller fish that do not live long are safer, like sardines. And I think salmon was OK too.

Or you can take fish oil supplements. however, the leading expert on fats, Udo Erasmus, says that these are sometimes contaminated, and are refined which may affect the quality of oils. I don't know, maybe someone knows a good reliable quality source of fish oil supplements. But if the fish oil smells 'fishy' then it's rancid. Fresh fish does not smell 'fishy'.

And it's probably very advisable to stay away from trans fats, at least for the reason that they can end up in your baby's brain instead of the right omega-3 fats (they also cause heart disease). They are shaped differently than the normal fats and affect how well brain cells communicate. Trans fats are found abundantly in margarine and hydrogenated vegetable oils, AND are formed also if you fry anything in vegetable oil. Use butter/lard/coconut oil/palm kernel oil for frying - saturated fats can withstand heating without this change to trans fats.

well, maybe everyone already knew this, I don't know. Just wanted to post in case it helps someone.

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#2 of 5 Old 11-11-2003, 09:34 AM
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TY, Maria! I am just starting to research changing my diet in relation to PPD (or maybe just regular depression as I am currently pg) and appreciate your post. Off to read your article!
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#3 of 5 Old 11-25-2003, 01:21 PM
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I just posted this on the other board...certainly some very imposrtant information for moms!

I just learned something very significant to moms- especially bf moms-
While we are pregnant our bodies give most of our DHA to the developing baby, and when we are bf, this continues. Lack of DHA in our briains is ABSOLUTELY LINKED to depression, and post-partum depression in particular. Post partum may be worse with second and third babies because...our DHA is even more depleted.
DHA is essential to brain developement in infants - and in healthy brain functioning in adults.

DHA is something you get from your diet, and unless you are an eskimo eating lots of raw fish, you probably arent getting enough.
Flax, hemp and other seeds high in omega 3s are good- but you need alot of these in your diet to get enough DHA.
You can get DHA capsules in vegetarian form from cold-pressed algea - Omega Zen-3 from Nu-Tru. You can also get it in organic fish oil form if you arent against eating animals.

I would take this supplement, along with a good multi. our body chemistry/brain checmistry has everything to do with mood. If your diet isnt ideal (most arent), you may be lacking essentials.

Wouldnt it be wonderful to wake up feeling good- just from taking your DHA!

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#4 of 5 Old 11-25-2003, 10:58 PM
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I had GREAT results with DHA for my second pregnancy.

My first pregnancy I had very intense mood swings for the first few months & then after my son was born I had a lot of post partum depression -- for a good 6 months and probably somewhat to a year post partum. It was very difficult.

I had read about taking DHA a few years later. I took it daily for about 6 months before I conceived my second son. Between that and seriously cutting back on white flour & white sugar, I had no wild mood swings during the pregancy & no post partum at all.

What's even more remarkable for me (and leads me to believe that both the DHA and diet helped) was that my husband left while I was pregnant, so I took care of our toddler son alone & went through pregnancy & post partum alone. So there was a ton of extra stress & I was completely calm & in control unlike the first pregnancy.

I hope this may help other women. I believe it really helped me.
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#5 of 5 Old 11-26-2003, 05:01 AM
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I've been taking fish oil supplements and I do notice a difference. Mercola has lots of info on his site www.mercola.com Fish oil is distilled and impurities removed so that's not a concern.
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