Scientific research is constantly expanding our knowledge of nutritional needs in pregnancy. Among the most recent developments in this field is the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in both the development of a healthy baby and in the health of the mother.
Omega-3 Fish Oil And Pregnancy: Benefits & Dosage
Omega-3s are a family of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients for health and development. Unfortunately, these are not synthesized by the human body and therefore must be obtained from diet or supplementation.
However, the typical American diet is greatly lacking in Omega—3’s. Research indicates that the two most beneficial omega-3s are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Although EPA and DHA naturally occur together and work together in the body, studies show that each fatty acid has unique benefits.
EPA supports the heart, immune system, and inflammatory response. DHA supports the brain, eyes, and central nervous system, which is why it is uniquely important for pregnant and lactating women.
Why is Omega-3 important?
Adequate intake of Omega-3 fats is essential to maintaining the balanced production of the hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help regulate many important physiological functions including blood pressure, blood clotting, nerve transmission, the inflammatory and allergic responses, the functions of the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract and the production of other hormones.
Depending on the type of fatty acids in the diet, certain types of prostaglandins may be produced in large quantities, while others may not be produced at all. This prostaglandin imbalance can lead to disease. The role of omega-3s in producing beneficial prostaglandins may explain why they have been shown to have so many health benefits, including the prevention of heart disease, improving cognitive function and the regulation of inflammation.
High doses of omega-3s have been used to treat and prevent mood disorders, and new studies are identifying their potential benefits for a wide range of conditions including cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Source: American Pregnancy Association Promoting Pregnancy Wellness
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