The Importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids during Pregnancy

Pregnant Woman Taking Fish Oil

Omega-3’s in Pregnancy

The rapidly developing foetus has a high need for fatty acids.

They are necessary for healthy brain and eye development and for placental growth. Fatty acids are also necessary for the mother to support mammary gland and uterine growth.

Omega-3 fats for baby’s nervous system development

These Omega-3 fats, particularly DHA, are critical for central nervous system development which begins 21 to 28 days after conception. At 40 days after conception brain waves are recordable. Therefore, it is essential that women ingest adequate amounts of essential fatty acids prior to conception.

Omega-3 for mother and baby

Increased intake of Omega-3’s has benefits for both the health of your baby and yourself. Higher intake of EPA and DHA is associated with reduced risk of preterm delivery and increased birth weights.5 Omega-3’s also support your baby’s brain and eye development, this has been demonstrated in clinical trials with improved eye-motor skills in infants.6

Other research has also found Omega-3 supplementation in pregnancy can reduce the risk of allergic skin conditions in infants.7 Higher intake of Omega-3 during pregnancy reduces the risk of postnatal depression and depression scores both during pregnancy and postpartum.8

Safe Fish Consumption in Pregnancy

There are health benefits from the regular consumption of fish, however environmental pollutants such as mercury, other heavy metals and PCBs are known to accumulate in the tissues of fish. The rule of thumb is the bigger the species of fish, the more likely it has bio accumulated these toxic compounds.

Fish that contain high levels of mercury include swordfish, marlin, gemfish, southern blue fin tuna, orange roughy/sea perch and shark. Due to the adverse health effects of mercury, particularly during periods of growth, women, nursing mothers, women planning pregnancy and children up to the age of six should avoid eating these fish.

The recommendations for the safe intake of these types of fish according to Food Standards Australia New Zealand are below.12

Pregnant women and women planning pregnancy

1 serve equals 150 grams#

Children(up to 6 years) 1 serve equals 75 grams#

Rest of the population

1 serve equals 150 grams#

2 – 3 serves per week of any fish and seafood not listed below

2 – 3 serves per week of any fish and seafood not listed in the column below

OR

OR

1 serve per week of Orange Roughy (Sea Perch) or Catfish and no other fish that week

1 serve per week of Shark (Flake) or Billfish (Swordfish / Broadbill and Marlin) and no other fish that week

OR

1 serve per fortnight of Shark (Flake) or Billfish (Swordfish/ Broadbill and Marlin) and no other fish that fortnight

REFERENCES

5 Larquéa E, Gil-Sáncheza A, Prieto-Sáncheza MT et al. Omega 3 fatty acids, gestation and pregnancy outcomes. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012; 107(S2): S77-S84.

6 Morse NL. Benefits of docosahexaenoic acid, folic acid, vitamin D and iodine on foetal and infant brain development and function following maternal supplementation during pregnancy and lactation. Nutrients. 2012; 4(7): 799-840.

7Palmer DJ, Sullivan T, Gold MS et al. Effect of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in pregnancy on infants’ allergies in first year of life: randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2012; 344: e184.

8 Leung BMY, Kaplan BJ, Field CJ et al. Prenatal micronutrient supplementation and postpartum depressive symptoms in a pregnancy cohort. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2013; 13: 2.

Pregnancy Seminar: The Long Nine and a Half Months

Are you ready to be a Mum (or a Dad) ?Victor Toballa and family

Preparing for a baby and the nine and a half months of pregnancy can be such an exciting time of change!

It can also be an overwhelming time as, although you want the best for your baby, there is just so much information out there about what you should and shouldn’t do.

Join Victor Tuballa and Mr Vitamins Naturopaths to discover the steps to maximise optimum health through each stage of pregnancy.

Find out more about the Pregnancy Seminar: The Long Nine and a Half Months here…

Mr Vitamins