Follow Us:
Saturday, May 08, 2021

Diet Diary: Omega-3 fats — Recommended during pregnancy, but only in the right amount

Most pregnant women do not consume enough omega-3 fatty acids due to lack of awareness.

Written by Ishi Khosla | New Delhi |
February 21, 2016 1:35:11 pm
omega-3 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids for pregnant women, pregnancy health, health food for pregnant women, health news, latest health news Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for fetal neurodevelopment, and may also be important for the timing of gestation, birth weight, and better infant cognitive and visual performance. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

The benefits of omega-3 fats have been well-established. Now, the role of these essential fats, which can only be provided through diet, during pre-conception and pregnancy has also been found to be critical.

It is believed that the need for omega-3 fats increases during pregnancy. Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for fetal neurodevelopment, and may also be important for the timing of gestation, birth weight, and better infant cognitive and visual performance.

Studies also show that most pregnant women do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids due to inadequate diet, and a lack of awareness. This may also be because of concerns around conventionally-known rich sources of omega-3 fats including fish, flaxseeds etc during pregnancy. Many women are unable to consume fish during pregnancy, owing to food aversions.

In order to achieve the desired levels, it is recommended to boost the diet with omega-3 fatty acid sources, both through vegetarian foods and fish. Reduce vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower and corn oil. Use mustard oil, canola oil, soybean oil and rice bran oil for cooking.

Supplement with flaxseed oil or flaxseed oil capsule or fish oil capsule. A supplement of fish oil containing about 350 mg EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 300 mg DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), should help meet increased requirements.

Mercury poisoning and toxicity through fish allows recommendations to be no more than two servings of low mercury fish per week during pregnancy. Flaxseeds supplementation due to estrogen-like action is contra-indicated during pregnancy.

Flaxseed oil of high quality should be taken with food, as it enhances absorption by the body. It tends to get rancid, so always keep it refrigerated. It’s therapeutic amounts range from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon once or twice a day. This oil can be added to salads or sprinkled on food, but should not be cooked.

Using fish oil supplements:

* Fish oil is available in health food stores as softgel capsules.

* Look for a high quality brand, which ensures that a product meets standards for strength and purity. The two most potent forms of omega-3 are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

* Avoid buying fish oil supplements in bulk, because they can go rancid. Also, store these in refrigerator to maximize their shelf life.

* Cod liver oil is not a replacement for omega-3 supplements and is best taken under medical supervision.

* For people who experience side effects such as belching, flatulence, diarrhea, or slightly fishy body odor, it is advisable to take smaller doses or just take them at bed time.

Good Sources of Omega-3 Fats

* Fish & fish oils

* Flaxseed oil, Mustard oil, Canola oil, Soybean oil, Rice bran oil, Sesame oil & Walnut oil

* Green leafy vegetables

* Soybeans, Rajmah, Urad dal, Lobiya

* Walnuts

* Sesame seeds, Mustard seeds

* Bajra: in moderation

Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of and Whole Foods India.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Lifestyle News, download Indian Express App.

  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.