A Danish study suggests that taking Omega-3 rich fish oil supplements in late pregnancy can pay dividends when it comes to healthy growth in children, right up until the age of six.
Fish oil for the win
The study, from Denmark’s University of Copenhagen, published in the British Medical Journal, shows that taking a fish oil supplement during pregnancy is linked to an increase in lean mass, bone mass and fat mass by the time a child is six.
According to researchers, “The study demonstrates that taking fish oil supplements from the 24th week of pregnancy right up until a week after birth may be beneficial for a child’s healthy growth in early life.”
Researchers looked at 736 pregnant women and their babies, and found that fish oil had a positive effect on the children’s growth.
The ‘right’ kind of growth
While it was previously found that fish oil in late pregnancy would increase a child’s BMI, this study shows that the increase doesn’t seem to be obesity-related. In other words, this is growth of muscle mass and bone mass.
The children whose mothers had taken fish oil supplements while pregnant were scanned at the age of six. These scans showed they had a 395g higher total mass, 280.7g higher lean mass, 10.3g higher bone mineral content, and 116.3g higher fat mass compared with children of mothers who took a control oil (which was simply olive oil.)
“The body composition at age six years in children given fish oil supplementation was characterised by a proportional increase in lean, bone, and fat mass, suggesting a general growth stimulating effect,” the paper concludes.
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Obviously, it’s a small sample and more research needs to be done. But given that fish oil has already been shown to reduce high blood triglyceride levels and boost mood, if you don’t eat fish, a fish oil supplement a day won’t do any harm.
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