Choosing the right type of omega 3 during Pregnancy

Do pregnant women really need to include Omega 3 in their diet? How does it affect the baby?

The following post helps you in choosing the right type of Omega 3 to be taken during pregnancy.

Omega 3 is a class of fatty acids that play a major role in the normal and healthy functioning of the human body, especially during pregnancy. There are about eleven different types of Omega 3 fatty acids. However, only three of them are of significant importance to the human body: Alpha-linoleic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Of these three, Docosahexaenoic Acid plays a major role in the development of the foetus.

Why should I take Omega 3 during pregnancy?

Omega 3 fatty acids play a major role in improving the overall health of the human body. They are associated with improving heart health, brain functioning, and eyesight. They are also proven by studies to lower the risk of depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, and other mental disorders.

Of the three important types of Omega 3 fatty acids, DHA is of vital importance. They constitute about forty per cent of the total polyunsaturated fatty acids (or PUFA) of the human brain. Docosahexaenoic Acid accounts for around sixty per cent of the retina in the human eye. The recommended amount of DHA to be taken by pregnant women is 200 milligrams per day.

Benefits of Omega 3

Pregnant women are encouraged to take omega 3 from Week 12 of pregnancy and up. Various studies show that women taking Omega 3 during pregnancy suffer from a lesser risk of premature delivery and postpartum depression. The babies born are less likely to be underweight at birth, and they respond better to stressful situations. The eyesight of babies receiving omega 3 is better than the babies who do not receive any omega 3 supplements.

Children who received Omega 3 at the time of gestation are at a lower risk of suffering from disorders like ADHD, autism and delayed brain development. They also exhibit higher intelligence and better social skills than their counterparts who didn’t receive Omega 3.

Which type of Omega 3 is right?

There are three major types of Omega 3 fatty acids that we need to include in our diet:

  • Alpha-linoleic Acid (ALA): These fatty acids are commonly found in plant sources like chia seeds, hemp seeds etc. They are converted by the body into EPA and DHA and are associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA): These fatty acids are found in oily fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, etc., and in microalgae like Chlorella, and Spirulina, etc. They are also synthesized from Alpha-linoleic Acid by the human body.  They are associated with lowering depression and anxiety and improving the health of the skin.
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): These omega 3 acids are found in oily fish like cod liver, salmon, etc. and algae. They can be synthesized by the body, using Eicosapentaenoic Acid as a substrate. This fatty acid plays a vital role in the development of the brain and the retina of the foetus, especially during the third trimester. This is the main type of fatty acid that pregnant women should include in their diet Docosahexaenoic Acid is essential for a child’s brain development and should be administered to infants even after birth.

What are the risks associated with deficiency of DHA?

Studies show that individuals administered with DHA during their infancy have a better-developed brain ad are at a lower risk of suffering from mental disorders and cancer. DHA deficiency at the time of birth is associated with a lot of complications, including premature birth, obesity, poor eyesight, and increased risk of mental conditions like ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Schizophrenia, etc. Individuals lacking Omega 3 are at higher risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disease. Pregnant women who didn’t take Omega 3 during pregnancy are at risk of suffering from postpartum depression.

Where should I get DHA from?

DHA is found mainly in aquatic organisms, including oily fish like salmon, Herring, Mackerel, Tuna, and microalgae like Chlorella, Spirulina, Yarrowina, etc. However, the recommended levels of DHA cannot be satisfied from a normal diet alone. Hence, pregnant women are recommended to take DHA supplements like fish oil and algae oil. Both are available in capsule form, as well as in pure oil form. Before reaching out to the nearest Omega 3 supplement, it is advisable for pregnant women to consult with their doctor regarding their diet.

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