Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fish Oil During Pregnancy: Benefits And Safety

Are you worried that consuming fish oil during pregnancy may be unsafe? Don't be. It is perfectly fine and is often recommended by doctors. But there a few things you need to know.

During pregnancy, your unborn baby gets the majority of his or her foods from your own diet. This includes all the vitamins and minerals as well.

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and these are essential during pregnancy as they are a family of building blocks that help in the development of the child. The two essential elements of omega-3 are DHA and EPA. These are only found in fish and not plant-based omega-3 sources.

The body cannot produce these essential fatty acids on its own so they need to come from the food you eat.

The Benefits Of Fish Oil During Pregnancy

These fats are essential to your overall health whatever your age in life. They can help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and promote good brain and heart health. During pregnancy they are responsible for the development of the foetus' eyes and brain.

A diet high in omega-3 can also reduce the chances of your baby developing illnesses such as asthma and other allergic conditions. These fatty acids can also help reduce the risk of a premature birth.

Studies have also shown that fish oil may prevent the development of postnatal depression following the birth.

What Foods Contain omega-3?

The most common source of omega-3 is cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, hoki, trout and halibut. These all have high levels of the essential DHA and EPA.

Some eggs contain DHA due to the diet fed to the hens. These are usually sold as high-DHA eggs. However, the amounts in these eggs are too low to be really beneficial.

Some foods are also now fortified with omega-3, such as margarine.

The most common way to get the benefits of fish oil during pregnancy is to take a supplement. These provide the right amount of essential fatty acids that are required to experience the benefits. They are also cleaned of any toxins such as heavy metals that often contaminate fish.

Are All Fish Safe?

No they are not! There are certain fish that should not be consumed while you are pregnant. These include the following:

  • Shark

  • Swordfish

  • Tilefish

  • Marlin

These fish are usually contaminated with high levels of mercury and should not be eaten.

What To Look for When Choosing A Supplement

Quality fish oil during pregnancy is important; otherwise you may not get the benefits. There are certain things you can look out for to ensure that you are getting a quality product and avoiding the many low quality omega-3 supplements that are flooding the market.

  • Ensure that the product lists the fish that are used for the oil. Avoid fish like cod, which is often highly contaminated.

  • You want the fish to be sourced from clean waters. Avoid fish that have been caught in the polluted water of the North Sea.

  • Ensure that the oil has been purified and the possibility of any contaminates removed.

  • Make sure the oil has a high concentration of both DHA and EPA as these are where the health benefits lie!

Follow these guidelines to ensure a quality product and your fish oil during pregnancy will provide many benefits!

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