Why should I take fish oil in pregnancy?

Congratulations! You’re thinking about getting pregnant or you are already pregnant! This is such a beautiful time in life with so much excitement and so many decisions to make. From building a team to surround you in your journey to deciding what to eat and/or what supplements to take.

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids cannot be made by our bodies, so they must be consumed either in our diets or via supplementation.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are made up of EPA and DHA. These component parts have separate areas in the body which they benefit, though they work together within the body. The EPA portion of Omega 3 supports the heart and immune system. It also helps to minimize inflammation, while DHA supports the brain and nervous system(“Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy,” Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Fall; 1(4):162-169.) This suggests that a high quality fish oil product is an essential part of any prenatal regimen.

According to americanpregnancy.org, “Omega-3 fatty acids have positive effects on the pregnancy itself. Increased intake of EPA and DHA has been shown to prevent pre-term labor and delivery, lower the risk of preeclampsia, and may increase birth weight. Omega-3 deficiency also increases the mother’s risk for depression. This may explain why postpartum mood disorders may become worse and begin earlier with subsequent pregnancies.”

This barely scratches the surface of the benefits research is discovering regarding supplementation with fish oil throughout life and especially during pregnancy.

Where to get Omega 3 Fatty Acids in your diet.

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While all fish contain some amount of Omega 3’s, some have larger concentrations. According to the University of Michigan the top 5 fish with high concentrations of Omega 3 Fatty acids include:

  1. European Canned Anchovies (in oil)
  2. Wild Salmon
  3. Pacific and Jack mackerel
  4. Sable Fish/Black Cod
  5. Whitefish

It is important to be sure to discuss your fish consumption with your birth provider and to avoid fish that are higher in mercury. Many providers have a handout in office that they are happy to provide you.

What to look for in a supplement.

A fish oil supplement has several key features that you need to understand.

Not all fish oil supplements are created equally. It is important to ensure that your fish oil has been verified by a third party with regards to sourcing and quality. A fish oil should not smell “fishy” nor should it taste “fishy”. These oils are generally not of high quality. Often, a flavor is used to cover up this taste. Some fish oils are even made into a tablet with other vitamins like Vitamin D or E to help in digestion.

Seeking out a high quality fish oil supplement, often sold through health care practitioners, is very important.

This blog is intended as a review of resources for general education. It is not intended for the diagnosis or treatment of disease, and statements made have not been approved by the FDA. Please consult with your health care practitioner regarding your personal health needs.

 

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