The International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) has launched two new Mind the Gap resources explaining the importance of Omega 3 and folic acid in maternal and infant nutrition.
Omega 3: The Making of You addresses a baby’s first 1,000 days of life, from conception to the age of two, which experts believe are the most important in lives. It explores how DHA Omega 3 is vital at this stage for the development of the brain and eyes during pregnancy.
It also looks at the link between Omega 3 and a reduction in the risk of pre-term birth, which results in the death of one million babies every year. Scientific evidence is outlined showing that DHA supplementation during pregnancy can help to increase the length of gestation in women, especially those with low levels of Omega 3 in their diet. The new Omega 3 resource was created with support from the Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega 3s (GOED), which is a member of IADSA.
Also new to Mind the Gap is Folic Acid: The Best of Both Worlds, which explores the benefits of a combined folic acid strategy that encompasses both fortification and supplements.
Scientists agree that consumption of sufficient folate before conception and during early pregnancy significantly lowers the risk of giving birth to a baby with an abnormality to the brain or spine – know as a neural tube defect (NTD).
However, a large proportion of pregnancies are unplanned, so many countries have put in place programmes to fortify foods with folic acid (the form of folate added to fortified foods and supplements). As a result, rates of NTDs have fallen. But more needs to be done, since globally there are still 18.6 NTD births per 10,000 livebirths, according to a report entitled Estimates of global and regional prevalence of neural tube defects for 2015: A systematic analysis.
The new Mind the Gap resource from IADSA highlights that in the U.S., rates of NTDs are among the lowest in the world at just five per 10,000 livebirths, according to Food Fortification Initiative. It explains how this can be attributed to America’s combined approach of both fortifying foods with folic acid and recommending that women of child-bearing age consume a folic acid supplement daily.
Cynthia Rousselot, director of technical and regulatory affairs at IADSA, said, “Mind the Gap is changing the way we communicate positive stories about supplements. It provides a powerful visual tool, in both digital and physical formats, to explain the importance of supplementation in key areas of health and well-being. Our new Omega 3 and folic stories complement the existing vitamin D resources, and we are already planning further topics for the Mind the Gap series.”
The name Mind the Gap comes from the warnings posted at railway stations across the UK, advising passengers to beware of the space between the train and the platform. It evokes the difference between the amount of nutrients needed to optimise their well-being and the quality they actually consume.
It also seeks to fill gaps in knowledge, while showcasing the results of relevant research and real-life examples of successful national nutrition programmes. In addition, it looks at how supplements can enhance and optimise general well-being, delivering significant benefits for both individuals and wider society.