Omega 3 fats in pregnancy
By Aveen Bannon
Consultant Dietician, Aveen Bannon offers some expert advice for expectant mums on the importance of nutrition during pregnancy, in particular increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, to keep mum and baby healthy.
Nutrition is so important when pregnant and there are some key nutrients that need to be looked at. One of those is omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are a polyunsaturated fat found in oily fish and some nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for health and as our body cannot produce them we need to get them from diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are made up of DHA, EPA and ALA. DHA and EPA are primarily found in oily fish whereas ALA is found in nuts and seeds. DHA in pregnancy has been shown to support the mum’s DHA levels, increase the DHA levels of breast milk and support infant brain, eye and neurological development.
Oily fish is one of the best sources of omega-3 and also provides protein, vitamin D and iron. So the advice is women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should consume 250-360 grams of seafood per week from a variety of seafood sources – this equates to including fish 2-3 times per week. It is a good idea for at least one of these servings to an oily fish like salmon, mackerel or trout. Avoid marlin, swordfish and shark in pregnancy and keep tinned tuna to two medium tins per week.
If you dislike fish you can get some omega-3 from nuts and seeds. This is called ALA; the body then converts this into DHA. Chia seeds, flaxseed, linseed and some nuts contain ALA so include these in your daily diet to boost your omega-3 levels, especially if you don’t like fish!