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Can Mental Illness Be Prevented in the Womb?

While evidence-based interventions during pregnancy and early childhood to prevent mental illness are scant, some research is pointing toward the idea that, possibly, mental illness can be prevented in the womb, NPR reports. According to literature published in the past handful of years, it’s possible that prenatal supplementation with choline (vitamin B), along with zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, may have positive effects on babies’ future mental wellbeing, NPR said.

Scientists want to study this further, but there are lots of things you can do, now, to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby. You can get choline naturally through organic, free-range eggs, seafood and liver. Omega-3, which is important for proper energy storage, oxygen transport, cell membrane function and regulation of inflammation, can be found in fish and seafood.

The challenge is to select fish that qualify as low or very low in mercury. Wild-caught salmon, pollock, tilapia, catfish, and cod, along with smaller fish like sardines and anchovies are all species with lower mercury content. Avoid tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel, as these four have the highest mercury levels of any fish tested.

Some other top super foods to eat while pregnant include full-fat, grass-fed dairy, sweet potatoes, broccoli and leafy greens, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken, berries, avocados and chia seeds.

A fiber-rich diet is recommended for most adults, but ramping up your fiber intake may be especially beneficial during pregnancy, as research has shown that a high-fiber diet may beneficially alter a woman's gut bacteria during pregnancy, producing anti-inflammatory substances that suppress asthma-related genes in her baby.
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