Fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Evidence from multiple studies support the use of DHA and EPA for the lowering of triglycerides, reducing risk of death and decreasing risk of heart disease. It has been suggested that fatty acids, particularly DHA, may be important for normal neurologic development; however, further research is necessary. 5-MTHF is a form of folic acid, a water-soluble B vitamin. Folic acid supplements are recommended for use in women of childbearing age to prevent certain birth defects.
In a new study, healthy pregnant women from three European centers were evaluated from the 20th week of pregnancy through delivery. The women were randomly assigned to one of four groups. The first group received a daily supplement of 500 milligrams DHA and 150 milligrams EPA; the second group received 400 micrograms 5-MTHF; the third group received both the DHA+EPA and 5-MTHF supplements; and the fourth group received placebo.
After birth, children of women in the supplement groups also received formula containing 0.5 percent DHA and 0.4 percent arachidonic acid (AA). Cognitive function of the children was assessed when they reached 6.5 years of age.
The researchers found no significant differences in cognitive function of the children based on supplement status. However, the authors noted that maternal DHA status may be related to later cognitive function in children. Additional research is warranted in this area.
For more information about fish oil or folate, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements database.