As one of the essential nutrients for our health and development, omega-3s provide a wide array of benefits in our bodies, especially for pregnant women. When taken adequately, these wonderful nutrients maintain the balanced production of the hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, crucial in regulating physiological functions like blood clotting, blood pressure, nerve transmission, and many others.
But, how can expectant mothers get enough Omega-3? In this article, we will discuss the notable benefits of Omega-3, selecting the right Omega-3, and some ways on how our dear moms-to-be can get the right amount of Omega-3.
Notable Benefits of Omega-3
According to the book Optimize Your Health with Omega-3, when we ingested omega-3 from our food or supplements, the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is converted into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids can be found in fish oil such as salmon, tuna, halibut, and herring, as well as algae
EPA – essential in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
DHA – crucial in the proper development of the brain and nerves.
Omega-4 fatty acids are necessary for maintaining the cell membrane’s fluidity and integrity when it comes to performing its functions in the right way. If the cells don’t have a healthy membrane, you will lose an enormous amount of water and vital nutrients, and the ability of the cells to communicate with other cells will also be disturbed, and then it would lead to the formation of cancerous tumors.
Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids significantly help in brain healing as they assist in connecting damaged neurons, inhibiting cell death, and activating genes that help cope with brain damage. That’s why they have been used in the treatment and prevention of mood disorders, and the improvement of cognitive function, and the regulation of inflammation.
Omega-3s and Pregnancy
Recent studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are crucial in both the development of a healthy baby and in the mother’s health. Below are some details about the effects of omega-3 in both the fetus or unborn child and the mother:
- The fetus uses omega-3s for its nervous system development.
- Omega-3s are utilized in the production of breast milk after childbirth.
- EPA and DHA have positive effects on the baby’s cognitive and visual development.
- Reduce the risk of allergies in infants.
- Prevent preterm labor and delivery.
- Lower the risk of preeclampsia
- Increase the baby’s birth weight.
- Lower the mother’s risk of depression, preventing postpartum mood disorders.
How to Select the Right Omega-3 Supplements
In this section, we will guide you in selecting the right omega-3s for you. Read the following tips carefully!
- Conduct some careful research and investigations concerning the manufacturing process and the quality standards that the manufacturer is utilizing. Search for the quality standards that exist for fish oil such as the European Pharmacopeia Standard, the Norwegian Medicinal Standard, and many others which set maximum allowances for toxins.
- Fish oils usually smell unpleasant when the oil has begun to degrade and is becoming rancid. That’s why you need to smell and check if the fish oil smells fishy or not. If it’s not, then the fish oil is good.
- Avoid really strong or artificial flavors in fish oils.
How to Get Enough Omega-3s
Both the Environmental Protection Agency and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women should consume 12 ounces of seafood per week from low-mercury species. So, you need to be careful in eating seafood as they may have concerns about mercury contamination. Here are some ways to get enough omega-3s during pregnancy on a daily basis based on the recommendations of the experts:
- 1.4 g of omega-3 fatty acids as linolenic acid from seeds and vegetable oils – Select vegetable oils loaded with omega-3 fatty acid linolenic acid and low in omega-6 fatty acid or linoleic acid. (For example, walnuts, ½ tsp flaxseed oil, 1 tbsp canola oil, or 1 tbsp + 1 tsp soybean oil)
- 650 mg omega-3 fatty acids as EPA and DHA; 300 mg are from DHA – Reduce intake of vegetable oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as sunflower oil, and corn oil.
- 650 mg EPA and DHA from supplements – Consume 400-550 mg omega-3 fatty acids, with 225 mg of DHA every day and use 1 or 2 capsules per day to meet these needs.
- 2 capsules – 300 mg omega-3 and 120 mg DHA
- 1 capsule – 640 mg omega-3 and 260 mg DHA
- 2 servings of low-mercury seafood per week – some seafood showing the total milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and milligrams of DHA in parentheses.
- Shrimp – 880 mg (320 mg)
- Salmon – 620 mg (260 mg)
- Pollock – 520 mg (360 mg)
- Catfish – 340 mg (180 mg)
- Scallops – 740 mg (360 mg)
- Sardines – 2.2 g (1.2 g)
- Light tuna – 380 mg (170 mg)
In order to maintain the fluidity and integrity of the cell membrane in performing its functions properly, especially pregnant women should consume the right amounts of omega-3s from various food sources like salmon, tuna, walnuts, flaxseeds, etc. or take omega-3 fish oil supplements every day. Taking these wonderful nutrients are crucial in the development of the fetus’ nervous system, the production of breast milk after childbirth, enhancement of the baby’s cognitive and visual development, reduction of the infant’s risk in allergies, prevention of preterm labor and delivery, as well as the risk of preeclampsia, and depression from postpartum mood disorders.