Omega-3 fatty acids and pregnancy
Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of
polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are found in
various foods, including fish, game, seeds, and plants.
There are three main types of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Your body can use
all three of these Omega 3 fatty acids to help perform different functions.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): EPA is found primarily in fish and fish
Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA): DHA is especially important to your body, and is
also found primarily in fish.
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA): ALA is found mostly in seeds, vegetable oils,
and leafy green vegetables. It is converted into EPA and then into DHA in your
Studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic
acid (DHA) in particular may lower a woman's risk for
aid a fetus's vision development, and even regulate a newborn's
Recommendations in diet
3 is actually something that you should be including in your
diet on a regular
basis. Even when you are not pregnant, you should aim to get a fair bit of Omega
3 into your body.
During pregnancy, it is recommended that you get at least 250 mg of Omega 3
every day. However, Omega 3 oils are especially important during the final
trimester. It is during this time that your baby uses Omega-3 to form
approximately 70% of her brain system. She is also working on the rest of her
Benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids during pregnancy
Omega 3 actually plays a large role in the development and growth of your
baby when it is in your uterus. Omega 3 helps to:
the brain -Infants rely on their paternal supply of DHA for the
developing brain (grey matter) , initially through the placenta and then
through breast milk. DHA is the building block of human brain tissue and is
particularly abundant in the grey matter of the brain.
form the retinas - DHA benefits also include the support of
retinal development and enhanced visual function. One study tested over
seventy mothers and their babies from between 4 and 8 months of age. The
study tested for visual acuity and visual-cognitive learning ability by
showing infants pictures and measuring reactions. Results indicated that
babies born to mothers with elevated DHA levels had increase visual "skills"
develop the nervous system- have been shown to increase the
learning and cognitive function of your child, with effects measurable to
Promote the development of your baby's cardiac and respiratory
systems- Research indicates that EPA is important in promoting the
development of prenatal and infant cardiac and circulatory systems.
Taking Omega 3 fatty acids during pregnancy has also been proven to help you and
your baby out in the long run. Recent studies were performed on infants who were
exposed to adequate levels of Omega 3 while in the womb. These babies showed
advanced attention spans and greater visual acuity than non-exposed children.
Their development was also two months ahead of non-exposed children. Other Omega
3 benefits include:
less chance of developmental or behavioral problems later on
less incidence of
breast and prostate cancer
Omega 3 is also necessary for your own pregnancy health and wellbeing. Omega
3 helps to:
reduce your chances of developing
reduce your risk for postpartum depression
minimize the chance of preterm
of Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 is best found in fish and fish oil products. High levels of Omega 3 are
oily fish, like mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, salmon, and
Omega 3 fish oil supplements
fresh or frozen tuna
However, it is important to keep in mind that
fish can be contaminated with
mercury and PCBs, so make sure that you choose safe types of fish.
Omega 3 can also be found in non-aquatic sources. Good choices include:
fortified foods, like eggs, bread, and juice
dark green vegetables
canola, sunflower, and flaxseed oils