Are Omega-3’s Important During Pregnancy?
If you’re expecting, you may be wondering – are omega-3’s important during pregnancy? The short answer is, YES! Omega-3’s are important for both you and your baby during pregnancy (1). Due to this, it’s important to consume a variety of omega-3-rich foods when you’re pregnant. Read on to learn more about the importance of omega-3’s during pregnancy.
What are Omega-3’s?
Omega 3’s are a type of essential fatty acid (2). Your body can’t make omega-3’s by itself. This means that you need to get them from food and/or supplements. Omega-3’s are also referred to as alpha linolenic acid or ALA. Additionally, you may see omega-3’s called EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are the forms of omega-3’s used by the body for different activities.
Are Omega-3’s Important During Pregnancy?
Yes, omega-3’s are very important during pregnancy. Some important roles of omega-3’s include (1, 2, 3, 4):
For the Pregnant Parent:
- Hormone balance
- Prevention of preterm labour
- Decreased risk of preeclampsia
- Blood pressure regulation
- Decreased risk of postpartum depression
- Decreased inflammation
- Oxygen transport
For your Baby:
- Eye development
- Promoting normal growth
- Brain development
- Forming the cell membrane
- Increased birth weight
As you can see, omega-3’s are extremely important for the health for you and your baby. Therefore, it’s important that you have a variety of omega-3-rich foods and/or supplements.
Dietary Recommendations for Omega-3’s
Many expecting parents don’t get enough omega-3’s. If you need help to figure out whether or not you’re getting enough, book a time to speak with one of our Dietitians. The current recommendation for omega-3’s during pregnancy is (2):
200-300 mg of DHA/day
Some prenatal supplements contain 200-300 mg of DHA. However, it is also important to try to consume omega-3’s from food sources.
Sources of Omega-3’s
Sources of omega-3’s include (2,3,4,5):
Animal-based sources of Omega-3’s:
- Low mercury fish (salmon, rainbow trout, halibut, sardines, tuna)
- Omega-3 eggs
- Fish oil supplements
Plant-based sources of Omega-3’s:
- Algae supplements
- Seeds (flax, hemp, chia)
- Beans (kidney, black, soy)
- Vegetable oils
As you can see, there are many animal and plant-based sources of omega-3’s. If you choose fish as your source of omega-3’s, it is VERY important that it is low in mercury (4). This is because mercury can be harmful to you and your baby. For more information about eating fish during pregnancy, head to our blog post: Are Fish and Seafood Safe to Eat During Pregnancy? .
Final Notes from The Nest
From reading this blog, you are able to see that – YES omega-3’s are important for pregnancy. Omega-3’s are not made by the body. This means you need to consume them daily to meet your needs. You should aim to consume 200-300 mg of DHA per day for the growth and development of your baby. This can be achieved by eating many of the omega-3-rich foods listed above or by including a supplement. For more specific omega-3 recommendations, book a call with one of the Registered Dietitians at The Nest.
~ Article written by Hailey Belaire
Looking for individualized support?
Book a free consultation call to connect with us and see if we’re the right fit for what you’re looking for!
- American Pregnancy Association [Internet]. Texas: American Pregnancy Association; c2021 [cited 2022 Jan 9]. Omega -3 fish oil and pregnancy; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/omega-3-fish-oil-and-pregnancy/
- Coletta JM, Bell SJ, Roman AS. Omega-3 fatty acids and pregnancy. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010;3(4):163-71.
- Greenberg JA, Bell SJ, Van Ausdal W. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2008; 1(4):162-69.
- Health Canada. Prenatal nutrition guidelines for health professionals: Fish and omega-3 fatty acids [Internet]. Ottawa: Health Canada. 2007 [cited 2022 Jan 9]. 8 p. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/migration/hc-sc/fn-an/alt_formats/hpfb-dgpsa/pdf/pubs/omega3-eng.pdf
- Physicians Committee [Internet]. Washington: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; c2022 [cited 2022 Jan 9]. Omega-3 fatty acid and plant-based diets; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/omega-3