Gross Misinformation about Fish Oils…

Question: from Darikka

I am a mother of one-year old boy. I have been breastfeeding him for a year now and will continue to do so for another year. When my baby was 8 month, he had skin rash that appeared everyday and disappeared in the morning. The doctor said he could be allergic to seafood so we stop giving him seawater fish since then.

I just discovered recently that he actually was allergic to baby liquid soap. I switched to a bar soap and he never had skin rash again. I, however, do not dare to give him seafood yet. At the same time, I am afraid that he might not have enough Omega 3 for his brain. I would like to use your fish oil hoping that it will be passed on to him through my milk. Nevertheless, I have some questions/concerns on the following:

1. Will fish oil get passed on to my baby through my milk? Will he be allergic to it? Should I take fish oil or not?

2. I have read an article that said fish oil intake can create problem since its oxidation process and reduce Vitamin E. The lack of Vitamin E then can cause insufficient blood in the heart. Moreover, fish oil intake can cause improper balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6.

Besides, taking fish oil unnaturally (not by eating fish) can cause cancer. Lastly, the EPA can reduce immunity functioning, so the eater of fish oil will be more prone to infection. What do you think about these risks? I am considering the benefits of my baby brain development but wonder if the benefits outweigh the risks.

3. I have heard from a nurse that fish oil should not be taken during the first 3 months of pregnancy since it can cause bleeding and the embryo will not attach itself to the womb strongly. I hope to have another baby and I am not using any birth control i.e. I can be pregnant anytime. What I heard make me worried. I would like to give the best to my baby boy but at the same time I do not want to create any risk to another one which might conceive anytime. What is your comment on this issue?

Answer: from Joanna (Medical Nutritionist for Xtend-Life)

I can understand your concerns based on what you have been told. I will deal with your questions in the same order.

Firstly, yes, if you take omega 3s this may be passed on in some quantity to your baby whilst breastfeeding. You can also give your baby omega 3s direct as they are quite safe to do so. Now, in your particular case, it is not possible for me to say with any guarantee whether or not he will be allergic to fish oil extract.

The allergy to the soap is a completely separate issue and is not related to fish oils at all, and so currently there is no evidence from what you have said to indicate that your baby would be allergic to fish oils. The chances of being allergic to the oils is very slim, as even people that are allergic to certain things, even some seafood, are often, although of course not always, only allergic to the food itself and not an oil extract.

So, it is not possible for me to guarantee that anyone, baby or adult, will not have an allergy to fish oil extraction, but there are no indications from your information that there is any reason your baby should be allergic to them.

Regarding the article you mention in point 2. It is not possible for me to comment directly without knowing the context of the said article and what source it comes from. However, taking the points you make as individual points in themselves I am afraid to say the article sounds extremely false and very misleading - for whatever reason!

Ok, fish oils are prone to oxidation, and vitamin E is often included in extracts to help prevent this occurrence once it comes into contact with air in the stomach (obviously up until that point it is enclosed within the softgel). If you obtain a quality enclosed fish oil extraction (such as a softgel one like ours, with added vitamin E), and the production process is meticulous (as is ours) then there is no problem with oxidation of the extraction prior to ingestion.

The Vitamin E used in this process is only a minimal amount, 1.5IUs, and is solely for the purpose of helping protect the extract. Vitamin E for cardiovascular health is a different issue, BUT there is no evidence that lack of a certain dosage of vitamin E causes insufficient blood to the heart - especially with regard to Omega 3s.

To comment further on this I would need to read the comment in the article to get it in correct context. Vitamin E is essential for overall health and cardiovascular health, and so does help this area of health and is used in many supplements for this purpose. A certain amount, for this purpose, is not required in Omega 3s.

Fish oil intake can consist of omega 3s, some products also contain omega 6, 7, and 9. Providing yourself with Omega 3s is actually balancing (not imbalancing) the necessary intake of omegas, as it is omega 3s that you are lacking. Omega 6 is plentiful in the diet and so does not need to be ingested further. Omegas 7 and 9 are made by the body itself and so do not need ingestion.
So the only place that imbalance occurs is if you are intaking too much additional Omega 6, 7 or 9, as these interfere with the metabolism of the necessary omega 3s (as well as not needing to ingest further 6, 7 and 9 anyway).

There is no evidence to suggest that taking fish oil from extract (which is a natural, not unnatural source, as suggested) causes cancer! Again, I would be interested in the context and source of the article to comment further on this, but this is a false statement with absolutely no backing whatsoever.

EPA and DHA are the 2 important components of omega 3 fish oils necessary for health. A high DHA is more important than a high EPA as this is the building block of omegas and needed by the body. Ingesting EPA and especially DHA actually increases, not decreases immunity, so this is again a false statement by the article.

With the allergy issues aside, which we have discussed above, omega 3/ DHAs are highly recommended and proven beneficial for fetal, baby and adult health and development. There are many benefits, both physical and neurological, and next to no negative effects.

The information from the nurse is also very misleading. The only time that this would be the case is if you were already on blood thinning medications or had specific blood problems that may mean you are hypersensitive to bleeding or bruising. omega 3s are highly recommended at all stages of pregnancy and beyond to help with fetal development.

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