Urgent: 25% of pregnant women at risk of omega-3 deficiency

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omega-3-deficiency(NaturalHealth365)  Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to a healthy diet and provide many benefits, including brain and heart health.  However, a recent study says pregnant women may not get enough omega-3 from their diet or supplements.

Getting enough omega-3 during pregnancy can help prevent preterm birth and promote neurodevelopment and overall health of the baby.  This gives babies a good, healthy start in life, but almost a quarter of the study participants reported that they did not eat any fish or take any omega-3 supplements during their pregnancy.

Research reveals omega-3 deficiency common among expectant mothers

A recent study, led by researchers at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and published on February 27, 2024, sheds light on omega-3 deficiency in pregnant women.  Drawing data from the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program, the study examined the dietary habits of 10,800 pregnant women regarding fish consumption and supplement intake from 12,646 expectant mothers.

After carefully examining the data, the study reveals a concerning reality: many pregnant women are at significant risk of omega-3 deficiency.

25% of pregnant women lack omega-3-rich fish consumption

The study’s findings showed that almost a quarter (25%) of the participants reported not consuming any fish or consuming fish less than once a month during their pregnancy.  It also showed that just 16% of the women reported taking omega-3 supplements.

The findings also showed that women who consumed less fish were also less likely to use omega-3 supplements.  This put that group at an even greater risk of not getting sufficient omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy.

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Potential risks of omega-3 deficiency during pregnancy

There are several risks that an omega-3 deficiency can cause in infants and fetuses.  Omega-3 is vital not only for a child’s neurodevelopment after birth but also for fetal brain development.  Omega-3 deficiency during pregnancy has been linked to lower behavior and developmental scores.

There are also benefits for the pregnant mother.  Omega-3 intake during pregnancy has also been linked to regulating inflammation, preventing heart disease, and preventing mood disorders.  It can also be beneficial for many medical conditions, such as IBS, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.

In short, omega-3 intake during pregnancy can benefit both mother and baby.

How to make sure you get enough omega-3

While there isn’t a set daily recommended intake for omega-3, guidelines for alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, offer insight into suggested amounts:

  • Pregnant women: 1.4 g
  • Breastfeeding women: 1.3 g
  • Children:
    • Birth to 12 months: 0.5 g
    • 1-3 years: 0.7 g
    • 4-8 years: 0.9 g
    • Boys 9-13 years: 1.2 g
    • Girls 9-13 years: 1.0 g
  • Teens:
    • Boys 14-18 years: 1.6 g
    • Girls 14-18 years: 1.1 g

Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into your diet can be achieved through supplements or by consuming foods rich in omega-3s daily, such as:

  • Cold water, fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, herring, and sardines
  • Nuts and seeds such as chia seeds, flaxseed, and walnuts
  • Plant oils like, flaxseed oil
  • Whole foods like organic milk, pasture raised eggs and raw yogurt

Bottom line: prioritizing good prenatal care alongside a wholesome diet can benefit both the baby’s and the mother’s health.  Fortunately, incorporating enough omega-3 into your diet is relatively straightforward.  Take action now – your baby is counting on you.

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