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Omega-3 and Pregnancy

Omega-3 and Pregnancy

Why are Omega-3s important during pregnancy? Learn more about why you need them and why supplementation may be helpful.

Lifestyle insight
Reading time: 2 minutes

How does Omega-3 affect your pregnancy?

Whether it’s your first baby or your third, one thing doesn’t ever change—that’s wanting to be best prepared to deliver a happy and healthy baby. Pregnancy requires a lot from your body, especially proper nutrition at certain times to make sure you and your foetus have what you need to stay strong. One of the best ways to ensure this is by monitoring your nutrition and adding supplements when necessary. 

Has Omega-3 been shown to help during pregnancy?

In a study conducted in 2007 in nearly 12,000 pregnant women, it was found that women that consumed a little more than the recommended amount of oily fish (approximately 2.5 servings of fish a week) proved beneficial for their child’s neurodevelopment.4
The benefits aren’t only for the foetus either. For you, as the mum, omega-3 fatty acids have positive effects on pregnancy. During pregnancy, because of their importance to a developing foetus, Omega-3s are diverted away from the mum-to-be and prioritised in the foetus. This may leave pregnant women with lower levels of Omega-3s.1

What about fish?

Without question your best source of Omega-3s will come from oily fish. Studies have shown that the benefits that fish bring to your pregnancy, not only in the form of Omega-3s, but also in protein, iron and zinc outweighs any risks.2,5 However, when choosing your fish, here are a couple precautions to keep in mind.5
  1. Choose low in mercury and high in Omega-3 fish
    • Such as salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, trout and mackeral
  2. Avoid large, predatory fish
    • Such as swordfish, which may have higher amounts of mercury
  3. It matters how you cook fish
    • How you cook your fish can play a role in how much Omega-3 is in your fish. For example, fried fish may have less Omega-3 compared to grilled fish.

Are you getting enough fish?

If you don’t think you are getting an adequate amount of fish in your diet, Omega-3s can also be found in flaxseed, canola oils, walnuts, but most easily through fish oil supplements. Learn more about sources of Omega-3s and Omega-6.
  1. Swanson A. et al Adv Nutr. 2012 Jan;3(1):1-7. doi: 10.3945/an.111.000893. Epub 2012 Jan 5.
  2. Hibbeln J. R. et al The Lancet, Vol. 369, February 17, 2007, pp. 578-85.
  3. Akerele OA, et al. J Nutr Intermed Metab. 2016;5:23-33.
  4. Psychcentral.org. The importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in pregnancy. Available at: https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-importance-of-omega-3-fatty-acids-in-pregnancy/. Accessed September 2018.
  5. Mayo Clinic. Pregnancy week by week. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-fish/art-20044185. Accessed  September 2018.
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