Omega-3 and Pregnancy

Salmon
Creative Commons License photo credit: kozumel

It’s been known for a long time that Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, are an important part of a healthy diet. It’s also been known for some time that Omega-3s should be included in babies’ diets to help with early development, particularly brain development. Recent studies have shown that the Omega-3s you eat now, while you are pregnant, can have positive health effects for your baby.

According to the studies, the main benefit babies realize when their mothers have optimal levels of DHA (an Omega-3 fatty acid), babies’ attention span develops faster. Through the first six months of baby’s life, the attention span developed two months ahead of babies whose mothers did not ingest enough Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy. The benefits continued to last through at least two years of age.

There are a number of ways to get Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. Here are some of the best:

  • Salmon. Farm raised salmon is best if you can get it. For one thing, their diet is generally designed to produce optimum Omega-3. Additionally, farm raised fish don’t present as much of a Mercury problem as wild caught fish do.
  • Pacific Cod. As with any wild caught fish, limit the number of servings per week according to your doctor or nutritionist’s recommendations.
  • Tuna. Again, limit the number of servings per week.
  • DHA supplements. These are generally made from algae and don’t present the health risks associated with eating too much seafood or fish during pregnancy.

One of the things that makes it tough to get enough Omega-3 in your diet during pregnancy is that most of the foods which are high in Omega-3 also have the potential to contain high levels of Mercury. The FDA recommends eating 12 ounces of seafood per week during pregnancy. This amounts to two average meal portions.

If you are unable to get enough Omega-3 into your diet, consider taking Fish Oil supplements. These are readily available at health food and nutrition stores. As with any supplement, check with your doctor or health care professional before starting to take fish oil or DHA supplements.

Have you added Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet? What other dietary changes have you made since you found out you have a baby on the way?

 

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