Fish oil intake may be beneficial during Pregnancy.
Pregnant women who take fish oil supplements during pregnancy may limit the
effects of pregnancy complications, such as Gestational Diabetes
pre-eclampsia and miscarriage risk, due to inflammation of the placenta, and
also improve the function of placenta, according to researchers from the
University of Western Australia.
The researchers studied the
effect of dietary Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
on the placenta and fetus of pregnant laboratory animals and found that after
fish oil supplementation the placenta had higher levels of compounds called resolvins
They concluded that the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil can help limit
inflammation in the placenta, by being converted to compounds called resolvins
in the placenta. The study has been published in the Journal of Lipid Research.
"Many people will have heard that fish oil
is good for you but we don't fully understand the mechanisms," says lead
researcher and PhD student Megan Jones. "The omega-3 fatty acids in fish
oil are known to limit inflammation, and only recently it has come to light
that they do this by being converted to resolvins that reduce inflammation
after it's occurred."
"These findings significantly help further
our understanding of how fish oil intake may be beneficial during pregnancy,"
the Benefits of Fish Oil Supplements?
Omega-3 fatty acids have positive
effects on the pregnancy itself. Apart from reducing risk of pregnancy
complications they are good for the fetal growth and development too.
The two most beneficial omega-3s
are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA supports
the heart, immune system, and inflammatory response. DHA supports the brain,
eyes, and central nervous system and this is the reason why it is so important
for pregnant women.
Omega-3s have been found to be essential for both
neurological and early visual development of the baby. There is some evidence
that mothers who take 4 g of fish oil daily during the last half of pregnancy
may improve their baby's cognitive development by some measures such as better
hand and eye coordination, but reasoning, social, motor, and speech skills are
not significantly improved.
Studies have also shown that higher consumption
of omega-3s may reduce the risk of Allergies in Infants
Omega-3 deficiency increases the
mother's risk for Depression
This may explain why postpartum mood disorders may become worse and begin
earlier with subsequent pregnancies.
However, fish oil doesn't seem to
help prevent high Blood Pressure
Eat During Pregnancy?
The best sources of EPA and DHA
are cold water fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish,
anchovy, sardines, herring, and trout. They provide about 1 g of omega-3 fatty
acids in about 3.5 ounces of fish. If you are worried about mercury and other
toxins in fish, especially during pregnancy, opt for purified Fish Oil Supplements
These are often the safest source of EPA and DHA.
The NHS, UK, guideline recommends
limiting the amount of tuna consumed to 2 tuna steaks (or 6o z. /170 g) a week.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces (340 g)
of seafood a week.
Seafood is also a very good
source of protein, iron and zinc that are essential for pregnant women. But
avoid large, predatory fish such as Shark
swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish; they can contain high levels of mercury.
Do not eat any raw shellfish or sushi. If taking fish oil supplements be sure
to purchase supplements from a reputable source.
Fish Oil Dosage
ISSFAL (the International Society
for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids) recommends consuming 300 mg DHA daily for pregnant and lactating
The FDA recommends fish oil to be
safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women when taken in low doses (3 g or less
per day). Taking more than 3 g per day might keep blood from clotting and can
increase the chance of bleeding. High doses of fish oil may also reduce the
immune system's activity, reducing the body's ability to fight infection.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant and lactating
women consume 500 mg to 1000 mg of fish oil per day ensuring that at least 300 mg
are DHA. Although most capsules of fish oil supplements are 1000 mg, they may
actually contain only 200 mg to 500 mg of fish oil.
Fish Oil Recommended During First Trimester of Pregnancy
The American Pregnancy
Association recommends taking DHA throughout pregnancy and during the early
stages of an infant's life, though the critical period in which DHA may
influence brain growth may be in the first trimester of pregnancy.
This said, DHA alone doesn't
ensure a trouble free pregnancy and delivery of a healthy baby. A balanced diet
and regular exercise is the key.