Last update Nov. 4, 2022

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA, EPA, ALA)

Very Low Risk

Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.

Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids containing 18 to 22 carbon atoms. They are essential fatty acids that must be obtained from the diet, mainly from marine fish. They are part of cell membranes.
The main dietary omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Others are: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), moroctic acid, eicosatetraenoic acid, heneicosapentaenoic acid, and clupanodonic acid. Linolenic acid is also found in some vegetables and is partly metabolized into EPA and DHA.
They have lipid-lowering action by reducing plasma triglycerides, anti-inflammatory action and antiplatelet effect. They are used in severe hypertriglyceridemia, for secondary prevention after myocardial infarction, in parenteral nutrition, and as dietary supplements.

Since the last update we have not found published data on its excretion in breastmilk.

DHA is a common lipid in human milk. There is a good correlation between breast milk levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially DHA, and levels in the mother's diet. (Bravi 2021, Bzikowska 2017)

DHA is essential for the growth and development of the central nervous system and the retina, which contain high amounts of DHA. Accumulation of DHA in the brain is most rapid during the last trimester of pregnancy and the first year of life. (Hale, Marangoni 2016)

No significant association was found between maternal DHA/EPA supplementation and infant cognitive performance. (Lehner 2021, Duttaroy 2021)

It is recommended that breastfeeding women take an average of 200-300 mg per day of omega-3s, which is equivalent to consuming 1-2 portions (150-300 g) of fish per week. (DGA 2020 and 2010, Vanice 2014, AAP 2012)

Alternatives

We do not have alternatives for Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA, EPA, ALA) since it is relatively safe.

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA, EPA, ALA) is also known as


Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA, EPA, ALA) in other languages or writings:

Group

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA, EPA, ALA) belongs to this group or family:

Tradenames

Main tradenames from several countries containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA, EPA, ALA) in its composition:

Pharmacokinetics

Variable Value Unit
Molecular weight DHA: 329 / EPA: 303 / ALA: 278 daltons

References

  1. Hale TW. Medications & Mothers' Milk. 1991- . Springer Publishing Company. Available from https://www.halesmeds.com Consulted on March 17, 2022 Full text (link to original source)
  2. Lehner A, Staub K, Aldakak L, Eppenberger P, Rühli F, Martin RD, Bender N. Impact of omega-3 fatty acid DHA and EPA supplementation in pregnant or breast-feeding women on cognitive performance of children: systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2021 Apr 7;79(5):585-598. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  3. Duttaroy AK. Special Issue "Maternal DHA Impact on Child Neurodevelopment". Nutrients. 2021 Jun 27;13(7). pii: 2209. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  4. Bravi F, Di Maso M, Eussen SRBM, Agostoni C, Salvatori G, Profeti C, Tonetto P, Quitadamo PA, Kazmierska I, Vacca E, Decarli A, Stahl B, Bertino E, Moro GE, Ferraroni M, On Behalf Of The Medidiet Working Group. Dietary Patterns of Breastfeeding Mothers and Human Milk Composition: Data from the Italian MEDIDIET Study. Nutrients. 2021 May 19;13(5). pii: 1722. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  5. DGA 2020 - U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. - 2020 Full text (link to original source)
  6. Bzikowska A, Czerwonogrodzka-Senczyna A, Wesołowska A, Weker H. Nutrition during breastfeeding - impact on human milk composition. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2017 Dec 22;43(258):276-280. Review. Abstract
  7. Marangoni F, Cetin I, Verduci E, Canzone G, Giovannini M, Scollo P, Corsello G, Poli A. Maternal Diet and Nutrient Requirements in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. An Italian Consensus Document. Nutrients. 2016 Oct 14;8(10). pii: E629. Review. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  8. Vannice G, Rasmussen H. Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics: dietary fatty acids for healthy adults. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Jan;114(1):136-53. Abstract
  9. Section on Breastfeeding.. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics. 2012 Mar;129(3):e827-41. Abstract
  10. DGA 2010 - U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC - 2010 Full text (link to original source)

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