Pregnancy & Omega-3 Fatty Acids


Pregnant Woman on Black Isolated Background

A pregnant woman’s body undergoes so much physical change during those nine months and even for quite some time after that. However, what many ladies may overlook is the current nutritional state of their bodies before and during pregnancy. The nutrients a woman feeds her body before pregnancy can make a difference in the health outcome of her baby and the same is said for the foods ate while pregnant.

Omega-3 fatty acids are widely known for their cardiovascular health benefits, but they are also one of the very important nutrients a woman should consume when she is carrying to help keep her baby in good health. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the two most beneficial omega-3’s and naturally occur together. EPA provides support to the heart, inflammatory response, and immune system while DHA supports development of the brain, eyes and central nervous system. Studies have shown that incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into a pregnant woman’s diet can reap positive benefits for the baby. Since DHA is heavily involved in the development of the brain and eyes, consuming omega-3’s can help with the visual and neurological development of the newborn.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to reduce a baby’s chances of developing asthma or other allergic reactions when included in the diet of the mother during pregnancy. Additionally, they can lessen the mother’s chance of going into early labor or suffering from postpartum depression after birth.

Some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are from fish, and it is understandable if a pregnant woman is hesitant of this, especially with the concerns of mercury. However, there are safe ways to go about consuming seafood while pregnant and still get an adequate serving of omega-3s. For starters, a pregnant woman only needs about 200-300mg a day. Two servings of 6oz. fish a week is sufficient, if that is the woman’s chosen source. Ensuring that the fish was thawed out in the refrigerator and cooked thoroughly are safe routes to take. Pregnant women can also consume certain nuts or take omega-3 supplements, however, they should avoid fish liver oils such as cod liver oil, as it can create harmful levels of vitamin A in the body.

Some ideal sources of omega- 3 fatty acids include:
Salmon
Halibut
Alaskan King Crab
Walnuts
Omega-3 enriched eggs
Rainbow trout
Flax seed

For women considering pregnancy, ensuring that they are consuming adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids among other nutrients can help to increase their chances of carrying out healthy pregnancies when their time comes. The new life that grows within a woman’s body is delicate so the nutrients she takes in should only those which will nurture and protect her baby’s growth, and it is evident that omega-3 fatty acids help to do just that.

Resources: American College of Nurse-Midwives

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