Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential for the neurological, early visual development of the baby, and they also have positive effects on the pregnancy. The following article provides information on the benefits of fish oil for a pregnant woman.
Fish oil regulates the level of cholesterol in the body and offers numerous other health benefits. This oil has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, especially the ones that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids belong to the unsaturated fatty acids family, which are found in fish, plants, and seeds. The oil is the best source of these fatty acids.
Since, the body cannot produce omega-3 acids by itself, the only option is to consume them via foods. Most pregnant women are confused about the consumption of this oil, due to the high content of mercury and other toxins in the fishes. However, a high quality oil from a reputable manufacturer, delivers the health benefits without the risk of toxicity.
Oily fish like mackerel, sardines, trout, herring, and salmon are rich sources of these fatty acids. But only 40% of the mothers and expecting mothers are aware of their health benefits, during and after pregnancy. As many as 85% of expecting mothers are deficient of these important fats. In fact, it is observed that only 4% of pregnant women get the right amounts of EPA and DHA, either through the diet or supplements.
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are the active constituents of this oil. These constituents contribute to the structure and function of a healthy brain and nervous system. Babies need a lot of DHA in the first 2 years of their life. DHA contributes to about 8% of the weight of the brain of the baby and plays an important role in the actual structure of the growing brain, while EPA plays an important role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Benefits of Fish Oil for Expectant Mothers
- The brain and the nervous system of the fetus grow optimally.
- The oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce the chronic pain symptoms caused due to inflammatory responses.
- It facilitates healthy joints, long term cognitive function; and healthy eyes, hair, and skin of the baby.
- It helps to lower the blood pressure. In normal cases too, the oil helps reduce the risks of primary and secondary heart attacks.
- Research suggests that children whose mothers had consumed this oil during pregnancy, have good comprehension skills. Their average phrase length and vocabulary, is also excellent as compared to other children.
- Insufficient intake of EPA and DHA by a pregnant woman can make her lose as much as 3% of her own brain mass in the last trimester of pregnancy, as the EPA and DHA stored in her own brain will be transferred to her baby.
- Intake of this oil or consumption of the supplements during pregnancy can help avoid depression and anxiety. In fact, insufficient intake of the fatty acids can cause depression.
- Babies who have higher levels of the fatty acids in their cord blood, are found to have better hand and eye coordination. It is observed that the infants in the womb who enjoy adequate levels of these essential acids, show better overall development, attention spans, and visual acuity than those babies whose mothers had lower levels of these acids.
- It helps lower triglycerides which otherwise can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Research suggests that the Eskimos of Greenland, whose diet consists of, about a pound of fish each day, reflect one of the lowest rates of coronary heart disease. Omega-3 essential fatty acids make the blood platelets less sticky and protect the artery linings from clogging.
- It helps improve the health of the heart, as it converts the bad cholesterol into good cholesterol. Research has proved that a diet rich in salmon oil, if followed for 20 days, can increase the HDL (good cholesterol) by 10%. The oil enhances blood circulation, leading to the breaking down of the fibrin (compound responsible for clotting and scar formation).
Pregnant women should consult the doctor before consuming this oil. Generally, 250 milligrams of omega-3 per day is recommended for pregnant women, especially in final trimester. Low intake of these fatty acids can be harmful for the baby and the mother. Also, it offers long-term benefits.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.