During pregnancy, omega 3 fatty acid and especially DHA is highly recommended. According to this report, the recommended intake is 650mg, 300 of which is DHA and the rest of which will be EPA. But at the same time, women are often recommended to drastically reduce their intake of seafood during the pregnancy.
This creates something of a problem, seeing as the primary source of omega 3 is from fish. In this post, we’ll look at why these seemingly contradictory recommendations exist and how you can find your way around it!
While seafood is normally very good for you, there are certain concerns that render some types off-limits during pregnancy.
Seafood and fish are completely natural parts of our diet and once would have played a much greater role in our nutrition. Thus our bodies have evolved to thrive on them and fish itself is certainly not bad for you during pregnancy or at any other time!
For instance, eating large amounts of tuna is generally not recommended due to the high amounts of mercury present in the fish. Mercury is a heavy metal that can cause several problems when consumed in large quantities – even leading to some psychological disorders.
Seeing as a prenatal feetus is so much smaller, the amount that it can tolerate is far more miniscule than an adult. Again, this is not the fault of the tuna itself but rather the chemicals that we dump into the sea.
It is generally advised then that pregnant women not consume more than two tuna steaks per week, weighing around 140g cooked. They are also recommended not to eat more than four medium-sized cans of tuna per week.
Similar concerns exist with numerous other types of fish food. Meanwhile, it is recommended that women avoid eating large quantities of oysters, mussels, scallops, prawns and crabs during pregnancy as each is more likely to be contaminated with harmful bacteria, leading to food poisoning.
With all these limitations, it is considered likely that women will get less omega 3 fatty acid than average during pregnancy.
Even pure fish oils can be a problem, because they contain large amounts of vitamin A (retinol). This is a problem, because when you increase vitamin A in your system, it can risk damaging your unborn child. It’s generally advised that you stay away from any supplements that contain vitamin A, which includes cod liver oil.
Plus it can make your breath smell…
Omega 3 fatty acid is an essential nutrient in our diets that plays a huge number of important roles. The most critical of these is to improve cell membrane permeability. This means that the body can use omega 3 fatty acid in order to build cell walls, instead of relying on other types of fats.
This improves the flexibility of the cells and makes them more resilient to damage. More importantly though, it allows desirable things to pass through more easily – which include nutrients, ATP (energy) and electrical signals through the nervous system. All this means that omega 3 can actually trigger an increase in brain function, as well as drastically reducing inflammation throughout the body.
What omega 3 can also do is to help with the creation of numerous hormones that are related to the regulation of blood. Through this mechanism, omega 3 is able to reduce inflammation further, as well as improving heart function, helping to manage your cholesterol, aiding your mood and even increasing muscle growth!
In short, omega 3 is pretty much the supplement that does it all! The problem is that fish is the main source of it and most of us aren’t getting enough. Worse, most of us are eating way over the RDA of omega 6, which is found in a lot of preservative oils, as well as in chicken.
The big problem here, is that omega 6 competes with omega 3 for space. In plain English, this means that when your omega 6 goes up, your omega 3 goes down.
And making things more worrisome still, is the fact that omega 3 fatty acids are particularly critical for fetal neurodevelopment. It’s thought that low omega 3 can actually lead to low birth weight and may even have a negative impact on IQ.
When women are pregnant, they require more omega 3 fatty acid, seeing as they now need to supply enough for one and a half people. While there’s no official recommendation as yet, it’s generally assumed that they need to get more.
So you need more omega 3 and you can’t eat much fish or even take a cod liver oil tablet! So what is the solution?
The best answer is to get omega 3 fatty acid in supplement form. That doesn’t mean a cod liver oil tablet but rather a pure form of omega 3. The best kind is DHA, which the body is able to use for more important jobs compared with EPA (though both are useful).
At the same time, you should also aim to avoid eating too many processed foods that contain oils high in omega 6. This will help to improve your ratio, which is actually the most important part when it comes to boosting your health!
In general, this is always good advice. Try to avoid foods that are processed because they tend to be devoid of the all-important nutrients that help to make us healthy and improve our performance. They’re full of calories and inflammation-causing simple carbs but they don’t offer the real sustenance that your baby needs.
Eat a healthier diet and supplement smartly and you can improve the health of your baby as well as making your pregnancy that much more comfortable!