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Q: Omega 3 DHA/EPA requirements in pregnancy ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Omega 3 DHA/EPA requirements in pregnancy
Category: Health > Fitness and Nutrition
Asked by: oranjemakker-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 03 Jul 2006 16:11 PDT
Expires: 02 Aug 2006 16:11 PDT
Question ID: 743097
Firstly, I am interested in finding out what the recommended amount of
Omega 3 DHA/EPA intake is for pregnant and breastfeeding women (mg per
day)? Second, what is the best combination of Omega 3 DHA/EPA for
pregnant and breastfeeding women (and what is the difference between
EPA and DHA)? Third, is there a preference for supplementation from
algal DHA or fish-oil based (Iunderstand they have different DHA/EPA ratios)?
[This question is based from looking at supplementation in a functional food]
Subject: Re: Omega 3 DHA/EPA requirements in pregnancy
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 03 Jul 2006 20:17 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Oranjemakker,

    As in many things medical, there is no easy answer. Some studies
recommend various amounts, while other studies recommend taking no
supplements. Other physicians are leery of Omega oils due to their
estrogen content. It does appear that supplements from algae are much
safer than fish oils, as they contain negligible amounts to no
mercury. However, they contain only DHA and not EPA.

    Please consult an obstetrician before taking any supplements.

1)Recommended amount for pregnant and nursing women?:

?Pregnant and lactating women, per ISSFAL, should consume 300 mg/day of DHA?

?Fish oil capsules contain both DHA and EPA. Supplements containing
EPA may not be recommended for infants or small children because they
upset the balance between DHA and EPA during early development. This
suggests that pregnant women should also be cautious about taking fish
oil supplements. These effects may be avoided by using DHA supplements
derived from algae sources, which do not contain EPA.?

?Some pregnant Canadian women may not be getting enough omega-3 fatty
acids in their diet, suggests a recent study conducted in Guelph,
Ontario and published in the Journal of Nutrition. Omega-3
polyunsaturated fatty acids, and specifically docosahexaenoic acid
(DHA), are important for brain and retina development in the fetus and
during the first few months after birth. DHA is also thought to lower
the risks of premature birth, low birth weight, and post-partum

?Health Canada recommends that women eat more essential fatty acids
while they are pregnant to meet the needs of the fetus. Different
groups have given various recommendations for total omega-3 fatty
acids during pregnancy, ranging from 0.5% to 1.3% of daily calories.
One group specifically recommends that women who are pregnant or
breastfeeding should get at least 300 mg/day of DHA.?

?In European women with high risk pregnancies, fish oil
supplementation that provided 2.7 g/day of EPA + DHA during the last
trimester of pregnancy lowered the risk of premature delivery from 33%
to 21% (43). In healthy Danish women, fish oil supplementation that
provided 2.7 g/day of EPA + DHA increased the length of gestation by
an average of 4 days (41). More recently, consumption of only 0.13
g/day of DHA from enriched eggs during the last trimester of pregnancy
increased the length of gestation by an average of 6 days in a
low-income population in the US (40). In Norway, children born to
mothers who were supplemented with cod liver oil (2 g/day of EPA +
DHA) during pregnancy and the first 3 months of lactation scored
higher on mental processing tests at 4 years of age when compared to
the children whose mothers were not supplemented with cod liver oil?

Caution: ?Some types of fish may contain environmental contaminants
such as methylmercury or polychlorinated biphenols that may cause a
health risk. Such substances generally are highest in older, larger,
and more predatory fish or marine mammals. For that reason, the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) have provided guidelines to help individuals determine their
best course of action. Young children, women who may become pregnant,
and pregnant or nursing women are at highest risk for exposure. Shark,
swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish have the highest mercury levels
and should be avoided by women and young children. For other fish and
shellfish with lower mercury levels, women and young children may eat
up to two regular servings per week (no more than 6 to 12 ounces).

For other individuals, time-honored nutrition advice holds true: eat a
variety of fish to minimize exposure and any adverse effects that may
be due to such environmental contaminants. The following Web sites
have more specific guidance about fish consumption:?

?The better bottled flaxseed oils are cold pressed fresh every day and
are unrefined and unfiltered. An easy way to add it to your diet is to
take a tablespoon mixed into a yogurt, or a whey protein shake, twice
a day.
Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. On the other hand, fish
oils are believed to contain much more DHA, so many people take fish
oil instead of flax oil.

Pregnant women are often told to take fish oil capsules but must be
careful to get the best quality, instead of cheap, generic stuff. The
cheap fish oil may come from fish with contamination and may not be
free of pollutants. Women should be careful about the types of fish
and fish oil they consume when they are pregnant, nursing, or even
when experiencing pregnancy symptoms.?

?Ultra-pure EPA/DHA fish oil capsules. People who are concerned about
their caloric intake may prefer to take EPA/DHA capsules, which has
the same benefit as cod liver oil, but is much more concentrated and
has far fewer fat calories. Moreover, if fish oil is disagreeable to
you, you can take less of it and get the same effect by taking EPA/DHA
EPA/DHA capsules also do not contain vitamins A and D, which may be
toxic in high doses for some people.?
?Excessive vitamin A and D is possible with too much cod liver oil.
Pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant must be
careful about excessive intake of vitamin A due to its potential
effect on the fetus. Fish oils extracted from non-liver sources are
usually not a problem. Check the label of your fish oil product for
its vitamin A and D content.?
Note: Not for pregnant women, but in general, ?EPA/DHA capsules. In
general, 3-12 grams of EPA/DHA capsules may be taken up to four times
a day, depending on your condition and body size.?

Is it safe to take omega 3 fish oil supplements during pregnancy?
?Yes and no. There are two types of fish oil supplement -- those made
from the liver of the fish and those made from the body of the fish.
Supplements made from the liver of the fish, such as cod liver oil,
contain the retinol form of vitamin A and need to be either avoided
altogether or strictly limited in pregnancy so that your daily intake
does not exceed 3,300 micrograms (mcg). On the other hand, fish oils
not derived from fish livers contain lots of DHA (docosahexaenoic
acid), which is essential for your baby's developing eyes and brain.

DHA, also called omega 3 fatty acid, is found in concentrated amounts
in oily fish and, in lesser amounts, in other foods, such as walnuts
and linseeds. Including DHA in your diet is essential for your baby's
normal brain, eye and vision development, especially during the last
trimester. This may be one reason why premature babies are
particularly at risk of eye and brain damage.?

?At present, there is no recommended daily intake of DHA, although
this is currently being researched. In the meantime, remember that if
you eat a varied range of foods, including some oily fish, you may not
need to supplement your diet anyway.?

?The Food Standards Agency advises women not to take fish oil
supplements during pregnancy.   Fish liver oil supplements, such as
cod liver oil, contain high levels of vitamin A, which can be harmful
to a developing baby.
Some people think that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements
will improve a baby?s cognitive development (ability to learn).  
However, there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case.  
Eating a range of fresh fish as part of a balanced diet will offer
more nutrients than supplements alone.?

?I've heard that pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid some
types of fish. Why is this??
When you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you shouldn't eat
shark, swordfish or marlin. You should also limit the amount of tuna
you eat to no more than two tuna steaks (weighing about 140g when
cooked, or 170g raw) or four medium-size cans of tuna a week (with a
drained weight of about 140g per can).

This is because these fish contain more mercury than other types of
fish. The amount of mercury we get from food isn't harmful for most
people, but if you take in high levels of mercury when you're pregnant
this could affect your baby's developing nervous system. When you're
breastfeeding you don't need to avoid shark, swordfish or marlin, or
limit the amount of tinned tuna you eat.

When you're pregnant, you should generally avoid having more than two
portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel and
herring, because it can contain pollutants such as dioxins and PCBs
(polychlorinated biphenyls).?

2)The best combination of Omega 3 DHA/EPA for pregnant and breastfeeding women?

This is something the obstetrician only can answer, depending on the
woman?s medical history. However, ALA is converted to EPA and then DHA
in the body and can be found in non-seafoods!

?Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA): ALA is found mostly in seeds, vegetable
oils, and leafy green vegetables. It is converted into EPA and then
into DHA in your body.?

?Dietary sources of ALA include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola
(rapeseed) oil, soybeans and soybean oil, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin
seed oil, purslane, perilla seed oil, walnuts and walnut oil.?

?The purest source of DHA is not the fish itself, but rather what fish
consume: the ocean's marine phytoplankton, vegetarian plant algae.
Taking DHA supplements produced from marine algae is therefore a safe
way for pregnant women to boost their fatty acid stores. And although
breast feeding is the "gold standard", due to the paucity of
omega-3-rich foods in the typical American diet, the amount of DHA in
the breast milk of American women is far lower than that found in
women in Europe and Japan.?

?A workshop sponsored by NIH/ISSFAL recommends 300mg DHA a day for
pregnant and nursing women to promote optimum neurological development
and visual acuity in their babies. New research contributes to the
growing body of scientific and clinical evidence that pregnant women,
or women who intend to become pregnant, should consider supplementing
their diets with DHA. Adding DHA derived from algae to infant
formulas, in particular, is a safe and convenient way to supplement
with this important fatty acid. Supplements derived from fish oil are
not recommended for pregnant women and children 5 years and younger
because of the potential contamination with organic toxins such as
pesticides and methyl mercury? 

3)What is the difference between EPA and DHA?

?Important omega-3 fatty acids in human nutrition are: ?-linolenic
acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid
?Researchers believe the ideal omega-6 intake should be no more than
4-5 times that of our omega-3 intake. The National Institutes of
Health recently published recommended daily intakes of fatty acids,
specific recommendations include 650 mg of EPA and DHA, 2.22 g/day of
alpha-linolenic acid and 4.44 g/day of linoleic acid.?

?ALA, the parent compound of the omega-3 family, is found naturally in
the chloroplasts (chlorophyll-containing structures) of the cells of
phytoplankton in the ocean and the green leaves of plants on land.
When herbivores (plant-eating fish and land animals) consume these
plants, some ALA, the mother compound, is converted by tissue enzymes
into the daughter compound EPA and the granddaughter compound DHA.
Each of the members of the omega-3 family?ALA, EPA, and DHA?has its
own valuable role to play in human nutrition.

The human body also has enzymes that can convert ALA into both EPA and
DHA. One often-cited drawback of flaxseed oil, however, is that
conversion in the human body is slow and inefficient. Recent research
is dispelling this misconception. For example, women of reproductive
age convert 21% of ALA into EPA and 9% of ALA into DHA. This means
that, from one tablespoon of flaxseed oil, containing 6600 to 7700 mg
of ALA, the conversion enzymes will produce 1386 mg to 1617 mg of EPA
and 594 mg to 693 mg of DHA. These quantities, from just one
tablespoon of flaxseed oil, are well above the recommended dosages for
EPA and DHA for general health maintenance.?

?The most common omega-3 fatty acids are eicosa-pentaenoic (EPA),
docosahexaenoic (DHA) and alpha-linolenic (ALA) acids. EPA and DHA are
found in fatty fish such as salmon, white tuna, mackerel, rainbow
trout, herring, halibut, and sardines. ALA is more commonly found in
soybean or canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds or flaxseed oil. The
American Heart Association has recommended that healthy adults eat at
least two servings of fish per week to boost their omega-3 fatty acid
intake. Eating 2 to 4 ounces of these fish will generally provide
about 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids.

Another food source is the Omega Egg, a University of Nebraska
patented product that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. The eggs are
produced from hens that eat a patented diet including flaxseed. These
eggs look and taste like conventional eggs but have nearly six times
the omega-3 fatty acid, a third less saturated fat, and less
cholesterol than conventional eggs.?

?The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can be synthesized from ALA, but EPA and
DHA synthesis may be insufficient under certain conditions.?

?Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids
(PUFA), meaning they contain more than one cis double bond (1). In all
omega-3 fatty acids, the first double bond is located between the
third and fourth carbon atom counting from the methyl end of the fatty
acid (n-3). Similarly, the first double bond in all omega-6 fatty
acids is located between the sixth and seventh carbon atom from the
methyl end of the fatty acid (n-6). Scientific abbreviations for fatty
acids tell the reader something about their structure. One scientific
abbreviation for alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is 18:3n-3. The first part
(18:3) tells the reader that ALA is an 18-carbon fatty acid with 3
double bonds, while the second part (n-3) tells the reader that the
first double bond is in the n-3 position, which defines it as an
omega-3 fatty acid.?

4)Is there a preference for supplementation from algal DHA or fish-oil
based (Iunderstand they have different DHA/EPA ratios)?

According to the University of Maryland, DHA extracted from algae has no EPA.
?DHA is found in cold water fatty fish including wild salmon (not farm
raised), tuna (bluefin tuna have up to five times more DHA than other
types of tuna), mackerel, sardines, shellfish, and herring. Some organ
meats such as liver and brain are also a good source of this essential
fatty acid, and eggs provide some DHA, but in lower amounts. For
infants, breast milk contains significant amounts of DHA, while infant
formula often has none (see above for the amount that should be

DHA is available as:

??Fish oil capsules (which contain both DHA and EPA [eicosapentaenoic
acid], another omega-3 fatty acid)

?DHA extracted from algae (which contains no EPA)

?There are two subclasses of long-chain PUFAs: omega-3 (n-3) fatty
acids and omega-6 (n-6) fatty acids. Important examples of the omega-3
PUFAs are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is the precursor to EPA and DHA.1 Rich
sources of EPA and DHA are fatty fish and fish oils, whereas principal
sources of ALA are walnuts and certain vegetable oils, including
flaxseed and canola?

?... a small, shrimp-like zooplankton, is a less-known source of
omega-3. A patented process has been developed at Université de
Sherbrooke to extract its oil and exclusive rights have been acquired
by the Canadian company Neptune Technologies & Bioressources [11].
This "krill oil", commercialized as "Neptune Krill Oil", naturally
contains omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, and antioxidants,
such as astaxanthin and a novel flavonoid (the first from an animal
source), both carried by phospholipids. It is these phospholipids that
bring a higher bioavailability of the omega-3s than triglycerides,
because triglycerides have to be metabolized by the organism to be
attached to phospholipids and enter the cell whether it is not the
case with omega-3 already attached to phospholipids (see that article
[12]). Krill being at the bottom of the food chain, heavy metals
levels are very low, even without molecular distillation.?

This site has a chart describing foods that contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils.

A woman?s obstetrician should be consulted before fish oil, flaxseed
oil or borage oil is taken. Depending on the woman, some obstetricians
may not want a pregnant woman taking flax oil due to estrogen.
?Flaxseed oil does have omega-3 in it and is preferred by some people
however some doctors say flaxseed oil should not be taken by pregnant

The reason is that flax seed, like soy or even more so, seems to have
an effect on estrogen and hormones and might interfere with your body
during pregnancy. Ask your doctor.? 

Further Information:

I hope this is the information you were seeking. Please visit each
link for complete information. If anything is unclear, please request
an Answer Clarification, and allow me to respond, before rating this

Sincerely, Crabcakes

Search Terms
Fish oil + pregnancy
DHA/EPA + algae + capsules
Fish oil + mercury
DHA + EPA + pregnancy + requirements
Recommended amounts Omega oils + pregnancy

Request for Answer Clarification by oranjemakker-ga on 04 Jul 2006 22:30 PDT

Thank you for your thorough and informative reply. However, I do have
some clarification questions.

There seems to be a contradiction between some of the references in
question 1. The first reference (UMM) states that fish oil based
supplements should be avoided by pregnant women because they contain
EPA, yet the other studies show quite positive results from consuming
fish oil.

I must say I was surprised by the info in the UMM reference, and in
searching online could not find any other sources that show that risk.
Other sites seem to suggest that both DHA and EPA are beneficial. For
example: ?Raised intake of EPA and DHA delays the onset of parturition
by several days presumably because they inhibit myometrial and
cervical eicosanoid production from arachidonate. EPA and DHA also
reduce the eicosanoid response to infection, which may also help
reduce the risk of prematurity and optimize the opportunity for normal
development in utero?
( ). See
also which says both EPA and
DHA are beneficial.

Does the FDA say anything about pregnant women avoiding consuming EPA?

In question 2, you quote from a Dr. Barbara Levine who implies that
algal DHA is the best form for pregnant women. Again, I cannot find
corroboration for this.

In question 4, I was specifically interested as to the difference
between the algal and fish oil based DHA? I am not sure the answer
addressed this. For example, it seems that breast milk contain a ratio
of 4:1 DHA to EPA (
) which acoording to the article is clost to tuna oil (5:1 ratio). The
algal form has no EPA, so I wonder if this makes algal version less
preferable? (rather than more preferable as suggested by Dr. Levine)?

Any clarification you have on the above points would be most helpful.


Clarification of Answer by crabcakes-ga on 04 Jul 2006 23:40 PDT
Hi Oranjemakker,

   I'm aware that studies can contradict themselves. Scientists and
researchers, and doctors often disagree, whuch is why I mentioned ti
sin my original answer. I can't tell you with any certitude who is
correct, but simply present you with my findings. I have found more
sources for you, which I hope will clarify things for you. I am unable
to elaborate on the chemistry and pharmacokinetics of fatty acids.

"Abstract:  Although some interest in growing microalgae
heterotrophically for the production of pigments was generated in the
1960s, only minimal commercial research was focused on this type of
production technology until the 1980s. Recent developments indicating
the nutritional and pharmaceutical importance of long chain omega-3
polyunsaturated fatty acids in the human diet have stimulated interest
in microalgae as a source of these vital compounds, for they are the
primary producers of these fatty acids in marine food webs. Food and
pharmaceutical quality production can be enhanced both by the degree
of process control and by the sterility achieved through a
fermentation process, when compared to outdoor solar pond production.
The data presented illustrate that microalgal-based heterotrophic
production systems can exhibit omega-3 fatty acid productivities 2?3
orders of magnitude greater than those of outdoor pond systems.
Additionally, long chain omega-3 fatty acid productivities reported
for the microalgal fermentation systems are 1?2 orders of magnitude
greater than productivities reported for fungal or bacterial systems.",6,21;journal,63,76;linkingpublicationresults,1:100278,1

"Although lower concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3; DHA)
have been observed in blood and artery phospholipids of infants of
vegetarians, it is uncertain whether their brain lipids contain lower
proportions of DHA than do those of infants of omnivores. On the basis
of experiments in primates that showed altered visual function with a
high ratio of linoleic acid to {alpha}-linolenic acid, it would be
prudent to recommend diets with a ratio between 4:1 and 10:1 in
vegetarians and that excessive intakes of linoleic acid be avoided."

"Results Maternal fish oil supplementation resulted in a significant
increase in n-3 PUFA levels (P < 0.001) in neonatal erythrocyte
membranes. Neonates whose mothers had fish oil supplementation had
significantly lower plasma IL-13 (P < 0.05) compared to the control
group. There was also a significant inverse relationship between
levels of n-3 PUFA in neonatal cell membranes and plasma IL-13. There
was no difference in levels of IgE and the other cytokines measured.

Conclusions This study provides preliminary evidence that increasing
neonatal n-3 PUFA levels with maternal dietary supplementation can
achieve subtle modification of neonatal cytokine levels. Further
assessment of immune function and clinical follow-up of these infants
will help determine if there are any significant effects on postnatal
immune development and expression of allergic disease." You can
purchase this article for $39 USD

"Prior to the twentieth century, humans ingested an approximately
equal proportion (1/1 ratio) of n-6 to n-3 essential fatty acids
(EFAs). Today the ratio may be as high as 20 or 25:1 of n-6:n-3. These
historical diets were less dense in calories and richer in high fiber
fruits and vegetables, lean meat,
and fish. They also had higher levels of the longer-chain PUFAs, such
as EPA, DHA, and AA. Today?s diet places a greater burden on the
body?s need to synthesize long-chain PUFAs from 18-carbon EFAs"

"Although a recommended dietary allowance for essential fatty acids
does not exist, an adequate intake (AI) has been estimated for n-6 and
n-3 essential fatty acids by an international scientific working group
(Simopoulos et al., 1999; Simopoulos, 2000). For Western societies, it
will be necessary to decrease the intake of n-6 fatty acids and
increase the intake of n-3 fatty acids."

The Lyon Heart Study recommends this diet:
What do we recommended?

    * Eat whole, natural, and fresh foods.

    * Eat five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily, eat
more peas, beans, and nuts.

    * Increase intake of omega-3-fatty acids by eating more fish,
walnuts, flaxseed oil and green leafy vegetables. One example of
eating adequate omega-3 fats is to eat 2 salmons a week or 1 gram of
omega-3-fatty acid supplement daily.

    * Use olive and canola oil in cooking.

    * Drink water, tea, non-fat dairy and red wine (two drinks daily
or less for man, one drink or less for woman).

    * Eat lean protein such as skinless poultry, fish, lean cuts of red meat.

    * Avoid trans-fats and limit intake of saturated fats. That means
avoid fried foods, hard margarine, commercial baked goods, most
packaged and processed snack foods, high fat dairy, processed meats
such as bacon, sausage, and deli meats.

    * Limit glycemic foods. Glycemic foods are foods made with sugar
and white flour that increase blood sugar levels. Increased blood
sugar levels stimulate the pancreas to release insulin. Chronically
high insulin levels are believed to cause weight gain as well as
atherosclerosis of arteries.

    * Exercise daily

"Before conception, during pregnancy and the first 12 to 18 weeks
after birth are the most critical times for a woman to eat the EFAs
her body will ultimately convert into the LCPs her baby cannot yet
make on its own.5 Women get these dietary EFAs from vegetable, seed
and nut oils. EFAs are grouped into two families known as omega-6 and
omega-3 fatty acids6. Although LCPs from both families are needed for
various phases of in utero development, those the mother derives from
omega-3 EFAs are often in short supply because of U.S. dietary
trends.7 Ralph Holman, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of
Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul, theorized that U.S. dietary practices
are responsible for the low maternal levels of docosahexaenoic acid
(DHA) found in normal American women, both pregnant and nonpregnant.8
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid essential to fetal development and is the
end point of the EFA-to-LCP conversion chain.

It takes a long time for the human body to catch up with dietary
change. In the past 200 years, we have reduced our intake of marine
foods and wild game, which were once plentiful sources of DHA. Since
today's diet contains fewer direct dietary sources of DHA, the body
must convert omega-3 EFAs to DHA. This has burdened the elongase and
delta-desaturase enzymes that must now supply most, if not all, our
DHA. Centuries of dietary change have also shifted the balance of our
omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid intake. The hunter-gatherer diet
supplied a 1:1 ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s. Today the ratio is
estimated to be 20:1 or 30:1 in favor of omega-6s9."

"Although we don't know of any downside to DHA-enriched formula, DHA
supplements derived from fish oil are not recommended for pregnant
women and children 5 years and younger, because fish oil contains
fairly large amounts of EPA and moderate amounts of DHA. In adults,
both are assimilated. However, in infants and fetuses EPA might
compete with DHA for a place in the nerve cell membranes; therefore,
administering fish oil at a young age may be counterproductive. Algae
supplements are a better source of DHA for children.

DHA and AA are the predominant LPCs found in breast milk and in
infants' brains. Ensuring optimal amounts of these LCPs in pregnant
and lactating women and in infant formula can go a long way toward
giving the next generation the best chances for health and
success.24,32 "

"Besides the type and source of omega-3 fatty acids, lately there have
been concerns over the risks of consuming fish-origin versus
plant-origin PUFAs. Some types of fish contain high levels of mercury,
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and other environmental
contaminants. Some species of fish may contain significant levels of
methylmercury, considered one of the more dangerous food contaminants
today. In general, older, larger predatory fish and marine mammals,
such as swordfish and seals, tend to contain the highest levels of
these contaminants.2 PCBs and methylmercury are believed to have long
half-lives in the body and can accumulate in people who consume
contaminated fish on a frequent basis. In the case of PCBs, it is
recommended that consumers reduce their exposure to these contaminants
by removing the fat from the fish before cooking them; however,
methylmercury represents a more serious problem because it is
distributed throughout skin, muscle and organs of the fish.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates the safety of all
commercial fish, including ocean-caught, farm-raised and imported
fish. One example is the recommendation for pregnant women and nursing
mothers to limit their consumption of sport-caught fish to one 6oz
meal per week. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that
young children consume less than 2oz of sport-caught fish per week."

"Figures I've seen suggest that only 10 percent of ALA is converted to
EPA and even less to DHA. Foods high in ALA are certainly still
worthwhile, but fish oils have the advantage of containing preformed
DHA and EPA. The only vegetarian source of preformed DHA I am aware of
is extracted from marine mircroalgae.

A number of vegetable oils contain significant amounts of ALA. The
most well-known is flaxseed, which contains approximately 55 percent
ALA. Flaxseeds can be ground and put on cereal or in a shake. They
contain more than 20 percent ALA by weight and are a good source of
omega-3. Although flaxseed is increasingly found in breads and baked
goods, I prefer to eat flaxseed ground and raw, since heating flaxseed
may affect its ALA content.

A few common oils with relatively abundant levels of ALA are easily
incorporated into salad dressings. Nonhydrogenated soybean oil
contains 5 to 10 percent ALA, canola oil contains up to 14 percent,
and walnut oil is about 14 percent. Oils with some of the highest
levels of ALA are not generally available in the United States;
perilla oil, derived from the seeds of the mint plant (Perilla
ocimoid), contains 60 percent ALA and can be found in Asian specialty

LEt me know if this helped you out!
Sincerely, Crabcakes
oranjemakker-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Very thorough answer and prompt and detailed response to clarification questions

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