Omega 3 and pregnancy: why, when and how to take omega 3 while pregnant?

There are little nuggets to eat before, during and after pregnancy. Omega 3 is one of them. Essential fatty acids, necessary for the proper functioning of the human body, they are ultra-beneficial for the health of future mothers and their babies. But then, why consume these essential nutrients when you are pregnant? Where to find them and how to take them? After reading this article, you will be knowledgeable on the subject. Come on!

What are omega 3?

Omega 3s are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that our bodies cannot make themselves. They play a very important role in the development and proper functioning of the human body, and in particular... that of pregnant women! They contribute to health:

  • of the brain ;
  • of the retina;
  • and the nervous system.

But they also have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, as they help regulate blood pressure and reduce the levels of triglycerides (molecules of the lipid category) in the blood.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the precursor of omega 3 fatty acids. This is absolutely essential to allow us to stay in good health and must be provided through diet. From ALA, our body can synthesize other omega 3 fatty acids, such as:

  • eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA);
  • docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

It is also through our diet that we stock up on DHA.

What are the benefits of omega 3 during pregnancy?

For the mother

According to research from ANSES , omega 3 is full of benefits for pregnant women. In particular, they play a key role in reducing the risks of prenatal depression thanks to their positive effects on mental health. But not only that: they also contribute to the reduction of certain inflammations and the improvement of blood circulation. Which can help prevent pregnancy-related complications, such as preeclampsia.

These essential fatty acids, in particular DHA, also support the proper functioning of the mother-to-be's immune system. A diet rich in omega 3 can help maintain good blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Omega 3 also plays an important role postpartum. According to studies , they could reduce scores associated with postpartum depression and serve to boost cognitive functions which are essential when you become a young mother and you are tired. Overuse, lack of concentration and memory linked to fatigue can be supported by regular consumption of Omega 3.

For the future baby

The benefits of omega 3 are not limited to future mothers! The baby can also reap a lot. DHA, again, contributes to good neurological and ocular development. Additionally, they can help:

  • prolong the duration of pregnancy;
  • thus reducing the risk of premature birth;
  • allow the infant to reach a healthy birth weight.

Even after childbirth, omega 3 is beneficial for the baby, as it helps strengthen the baby's immune system. And therefore, prepare it to better fight infections once out of the womb.

A little extra: if you plan to breastfeed, know that breast milk is an excellent natural source of essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6) for your little one. So, take advantage, it’s open bar!

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Key information

Studies show that omega 3 during pregnancy plays a role in its duration, thus reducing the risk of premature births.

How to consume omega 3 during pregnancy? The recommendations

What foods allowed during pregnancy should you choose to stock up on omega 3?

Do you want to stock up on omega 3 during your pregnancy? There are plenty of foods to choose from, as many foods are full of essential fatty acids. Particularly fatty fish or fish oil, excellent sources of EPA and DHA. Instead, opt for those with low mercury content like:

  • the salmon ;
  • sardines ;
  • mackerel ;
  • anchovies.

Be careful, however, when eating fish like sushi. It is a prohibited food during pregnancy that can cause complications for you and your baby.

For pregnant women who prefer plant-based products, the most common sources of ALA include;

  • flax seeds ;
  • chia seeds;
  • nuts ;
  • vegetable oils (linseed oil and rapeseed oil).

Eggs enriched with omega 3 and certain dairy products can also contribute to your fatty acid intake.

How much omega 3 to take per day?

The Médecins francophones du Canada association recommends that pregnant women consume 300 mg of DHA per day to support the baby's development. How ? For example, by eating at least two servings of fatty fish per week.

If this is not your habit, don't worry: you can also consume 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil per week. Or opt either for:

When is the best time to take omega 3?

There is no specific ideal time of day to take omega 3. However, we recommend that you consume them with a meal for better absorption. For what ? Because omega 3 fatty acids are fat-soluble. So taking them with foods that contain fat can improve their bioavailability. So, if you are pregnant, regularly integrating sources of omega 3 into your daily meals allows you to ensure a constant and sufficient intake.

You will have understood, omega 3 is a great ally for pregnant women, as well as their babies. And the icing on the cake: they are not difficult to find! A balanced diet, a good consumption of oily fish, some food supplements if necessary… And that’s it.

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