The American Heart Association (AHA) recommended taking omega-3s from fish and fish oil for the past two decades in lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases like a heart attack or stroke. But how about pregnant women? Are they safe in eating foods rich in Omega-3 or taking omega-3 supplements?
In this article, we will discuss omega-3, its benefits, and if it has some side effects in pregnancy.
What is Omega-3?
Usually found in the oils of fish, algae, squid, and other different kinds of plants, omega-3 fatty acids are healthy and essential fatty acids to our body. The body can’t produce its own omega-3 that’s why we need to acquire them through consuming foods such as tuna, salmon, and halibut. Also, there are other seafood, plants, and nut oils like walnut oil, mustard oil, and flaxseed oil. Omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
When it comes to maintaining the brain’s neurological functions very well, humans are hugely dependent on high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. Several reports have shown that consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids considerably reduces many different health risks such as plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Also, omega-3 fatty acids are able to reduce inflammation in one’s body and decrease cardiac death, as well as heighten the production of nitric oxide.
Studies have shown that taking a comprehensive approach to lifestyle modifications like exercise along with omega-3 supplementation is a great method in reducing fat and sugars and improving antioxidant status.
Foods Rich in Omega-3
Below are some of the foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Fish and kinds of seafood like mackerel, salmon, seabass, oysters, sardines, shrimp, and herring
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, etc.
- Plant oils like canola oil, soybean oil, flaxseed oil, etc.
- Fortified foods like milk, eggs, yogurt, juice, etc.
- Vegetables like seaweed and algae
Possible Side Effects of Taking Omega-3 Supplements During Pregnancy
Although omega-3 fatty acids provide wonderful effects in one’s body, they may cause some unwanted side effects during pregnancy. Take note that all of the side effects may not occur to all pregnant women. Please ask your doctor and check if it’s alright for you to take omega-3 fatty acids while being pregnant. Read the details as follows:
- Bleeding gums
- Difficulty with breathing or swallowing
- Hives, itching, or skin rash
- Prolonged bleeding from cuts
- Puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- Tightness in the chest
- Stomach discomfort
Thus, omega-2 supplementation should be assessed and monitored by a healthcare professional while considering all the effects this may have on the overall health of pregnant women. Usually, some side effects of omega-3 don’t need medical attention as they may go away during the intake, particularly for women with low-risk pregnancies.
However, if any of the aforementioned side effects continue to bother you, seek medical help immediately. Several reports revealed that pregnant women who experience bleeding or take anticoagulants like Coumadin or Heparin are not recommended to consume omega-3 supplements.
Moreover, your doctor and a nutritionist should conduct a full evaluation of your diet and risk factors in your pregnancy in order to assess the suitability of using a particular food supplement like Omega-3.
Omega-3 fatty acids provide many benefits like lowering blood pressure in order to prevent the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, this can be different for pregnant women out there as it can potentially have some side effects such as dizziness, bleeding gums, indigestion, heartburn, and many others depending on one’s body system. Still, consuming fish appears to be the safest and most beneficial way to get adequate amounts of omega-3 for pregnant women with low-risk pregnancies. On the other hand, pregnant women who have high-risk pregnancies should be careful and avoid taking omega-3s.