Consuming omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy is beneficial for both the baby’s development and the mother’s health. They have been found to be essential for both neurological and early visual development of the baby, and have been shown to prevent premature labor and delivery and lower the risk of preeclampsia for expectant mothers.
A study by Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) investigated whether pregnant mothers were consuming enough long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 LCPUFA) to meet current recommendations. Unfortunately, the results showed that most of these women weren’t.
The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada recommend that all healthy adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, consume at least 500 mg of omega-3 LCPUFA per day. The European Commission and the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) strongly recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume at least 200 mg DHA per day.
For their study, APrON examined 600 women who lived in Edmonton and Calgary. The team found that despite a high level of education and income, the majority of participants did not meet these recommendations for omega-3 LCPUFA during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The study states: “Only 27% of women during pregnancy and 25% three months after giving birth fulfilled the current consensus recommendation of the European Union (EU) for DHA. Seafood, fish, and seaweed products accounted for 79% of the total intake of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, with the majority coming from salmon. The results suggest that the majority of women in the cohort did not meet the EU recommendation for DHA during pregnancy and lactation. “
It was also found that women who took a DHA-containing supplement were 10.6 and 11.1 times more likely to meet the current EU consensus recommendation for pregnancy and postpartum, respectively.
The results of this study also suggest that nutritional advice and education about the benefits of a LCPUFA supplement source should extend beyond pregnancy, as 44% of women in the cohort who reported taking a supplement during pregnancy no longer use these supplements while breastfeeding taken three months after the birth.
I think the biggest problem with this is that for the past 10 years women have been warned of the dangers of eating fish while pregnant because of exposure to mercury. That is where they would get most of their omega-3s.
However, there are such great fish alternatives that mothers can consume that they can increase their omega-3 levels. We have 5 listed below:
1. Walnuts (10623 mg per cup)
2. Flaxseed oil (7196 mg per tablespoon) or seeds (2338 mg per tablespoon)
3. Chia seeds (4915 mg per ounce)
4.UNCLE SAM CEREAL (3300 mg per cup)
5. Hemp seeds (3300 mg per 3 tablespoons)
Fresh herbs and spices such as basil, marjoram, tarragon, spearmint and cloves also contain omega-3 fatty acids!