2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 18:44
Who hasn't heard of the benefits of omega-3 during pregnancy? Increasingly, research shows interest in this oh so essential nutrient for he alth.
How many pregnant women actually consume enough omega-3? Consensus made, research shows many virtues of consuming omega-3s during pregnancy and breastfeeding. First, let's start by establishing the well-known benefits of omega-3, then add the latest findings on omega-3 and perinatality.
My goal: convince you to consume omega-3 food sources during your pregnancy and maybe even add a good quality supplement!
Essential fatty acids, called essential because we cannot synthesize them, are divided into two categories: linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha linolenic acid (omega-3). Therefore, our needs depend on our diet.
The balance of physiology is closely dependent on the balance between omega-3 and omega-6. These essential fatty acids are in constant competition for the control of our biology. It is therefore importantto consume omega daily.
- facilitate fat storage;
- facilitate cell rigidity;
- help coagulation;
- participate in inflammatory responses;
- stimulate the production of fat cells from birth.
- help build the nervous system;
- make cells more flexible;
- calms inflammatory reactions;
- limit the production of fat cells.
The ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 is the one that has changed the most in our diet in fifty years. When chickens and cows ate grass, the ratio of omega-3s and 6s in milk and eggs was close to 1:1. But since these animals eat corn and soybeans, the ratio of our body is 1/15, even 1/40 in some people!
A curious study published in the New England Journal of Medicine states that eggs laid by hens raised on corn grain (almost universal today) contain 20 times more omega-6 than omega- 3.
As it is now established that excess omega-6s in the diet promote both fat cell growth and cancer-prone inflammation, we have more to limit their intake and promote consumption omega-3.
- Marines: salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring.
- Vegetables: oil and flax, hemp, chia and pumpkin seeds.
Tips to increase your omega-3 intake
- Use raw flaxseed oil to make salad dressings.
- Add ground flax seeds to your dishes: cereal, yogurt, compote, salad, muffins, cake and pancakes.
- Vary sources with chia and hemp seeds.
- Eat sardines at least once a week.
- Plan 2 meals of fish per week, rich in omega-3.
- Go for omega-3 enriched eggs.
In my opinion, we absolutely must have omega-3 marine sources in our diet, since plant sources contain alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a substance that the body must convert into EPA and then into DHA in order to have all the benefits of omega-3. Unfortunately, it is difficult for the body to convert plant sources into EPA and DHA. For the body to be able to convert ALA to EPA, it requires zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and iron. This transformation will also be facilitated with vitamin C, but will be inhibited by alcohol, pollution, heavy metals, excess sugar, stress and trans fatty acids. In short, almost impossible! No increase in DHA has been demonstrated following ALA supplementation.1
Omega-3 benefits for pregnancy and babies
It is well established that consumptionof omega-3 in the last months of pregnancy improves the sensory, cognitive and motor development of the fetus.2 DHA is the omega-3 fatty acid essential for the production of tissues of the brain. Omega-3s are also involved in the development of the immune system. They help resistance to allergens and microbes.3
A study done on the he alth of pregnant women in Spain, Germany and Hungary showed that when the level of DHA is high in the blood of the umbilical cord, children have a better neurological outcome at the age of 5 year. These women were taking 500mg/day of DHA and 150mg/day of EPA as well as 400mg/day of folic acid (in the form of methyltetrahydrofolate, a highly assimilable form).4
Another study on children has just been published in Spain. Omega-3 during pregnancy would reduce the risk of adiposity in children at the age of 3 years. Results found that increasing DHA and EPA decreases subscapular skin fat and triceps levels.5
Fish consumption is associated with a significant reduction in the likelihood of preterm birth. Women who eat less than one fish per month have a 49% chance of giving birth prematurely compared to 36% for those who eat fish often. In short, the authors conclude that moderate fish consumption (up to three meals per week) was associated with a reduction in prematurity.6
Praise for omega-3 makes more and more followers to consume it. Hopefully you're one of them, but if eating fish remains a challenge for you, add some good quality omega-3 supplements. It can be quite a challenge to choose your omega-3 supplement, so you can ask a licensed naturopath for advice. A little tip: if you have trouble digesting omega-3 capsules, put them in the freezer before eating them. Digestion will be easier this way!
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More and more research confirms the importance of omega in the diet of pregnant and breastfeeding women for the development of their baby. You knew it?