You’ve probably heard that pregnant women should take omega when they get pregnant, however, how many of you know the reason why pregnant women need omega…?
In this article, we will explain why you need to take omega when you get pregnant.
The Growth of a Baby
The first 1000 days of a baby’s growth are from the moment of conception until the second birthday. This is an irreplaceable period of time for parents to positively impact their baby’s long-term physical and mental health and help them reach their full potential.
The second half of pregnancy and young adulthood are critical periods for brain growth; DHA is the major lipid constituent of the brain, and the brains of fetuses and young children require a large accumulation of DHA as they grow. A 2009 study by Kannass et al. showed that infants born to mothers with high blood DHA levels at delivery had higher levels of concentration duration at age 2 years.
Recommended Requirements of DHA for Pregnancy
The recommended requirement for women during pregnancy is 500 mg per day, either from a diet of fatty fish or other sources, or from DHA-fortified foods, beverages, or dietary supplements.
A 2018 Cochrane review found that supplementation with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy reduced the risk of delivering a preterm infant (<37 weeks) by 11% (25 trials, 10,184 participants) and the risk of early preterm birth (<34 weeks) by 42% (9 trials, 5,204 participants) compared with no supplementation with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. They found high quality evidence that the risk of preterm birth (<34 weeks) was reduced by 42% (9 trials, 5,204 participants).
Considering these findings, the authors concluded that 500 to 1,000 mg of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA per day, plus a minimum of 500 mg of additional DHA per day, would be most effective.
The Norwegian Omega Study
A Norwegian study measured maternal DHA blood levels at 28 weeks gestation and three months after delivery and correlated them with blood fatty acid levels in infants at three, six, and twelve months of age, as well as with problem-solving ability in infants at six and twelve months of age.
The DHA status of pregnant women was found to be positively correlated with the problem-solving ability of 12-month-old infants, even after accounting for easily misinterpreted factors such as maternal education, which was used as a proxy for socioeconomic status. They also found that DHA status in 3-month-old infants was positively correlated with problem-solving ability at 12 months of age.
They conclude that these results reinforce the importance of pregnant or lactating women getting adequate DHA in their diet or from other sources.
Other potential benefits of DHA in pregnancy have also been studied; more than 30 years ago, scientists reported on how women in the Faroe Islands who consumed omega-3 rich seafood in their diet had longer pregnancies and their children had higher birth weights than children in the Danish mainland.
Did you know?
A recent, large review of several studies concluded that omega-3 PUFAs reduce the risk of preterm birth. To investigate this further, the Adore Trial, a 2017 US study, is investigating the impact of DHA on reducing preterm birth. Since inflammation is a well-known cause of preterm birth, the authors reasoned that DHA may be beneficial due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
DHA supports proper maternal or fetal health and is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Currently, it is recommended that pregnant women consume a minimum of 500 mg of DHA omega-3 per day. However, only a very limited number of women consume the recommended level, and if you are already pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, good fats and proteins.