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Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids during Pregnancy

December 3, 2020

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a valuable nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. This essential nutrient keeps your heart & brain health in general. Adequate intake of Omega-3 fats is essential for maintaining the balanced production of the hormone-like substance called Prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help regulate man important physiological functions like:

  • Aids healthy brain function, infant development of vision & nerves during pregnancy.

  • Promotes the development of baby’s cardiac & respiratory system, increases the learning & cognitive function of the child, Increases the attention span of a child (a measurable component of intelligence early in life).

  • Supports your pregnancy health, possibly by reducing the chance of toxaemia (or pre-eclampsia) & may help prevent pre-term labour & premature delivery.

  • Omega-3 fatty acid during pregnancy helps you to lower the risk of developing symptoms commonly seen in postpartum depression.

  • Intake of Omega-3 fatty acid helps in healthy weight gain of the baby in the final trimester, and also post-delivery.

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The requirement of Omega-3 as per RDA

Pregnant women                                                     1.4gm/day

Lactating mother                                                    1.3gm/day

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Your body does not produce Omega-3 fatty acid, so it is important for you to get them through food.

1.Fish is an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Two types of Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are:

  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

Oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, herring, and oyster offers healthy fat and high protein for you. Apart from Omega 3 fatty acids, fish also has vitamin D, B2 (riboflavin), mineral such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium & potassium which are all baby-friendly nutrients.

You Should Also Read: Why You Should Consider Food Safety During Pregnancy

2. If you are vegetarian, then it is not necessary to take fish, Omega 3 fatty acids are naturally available from plant sources as well. Vegetarian sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are Flax seeds, walnut, soybeans, and Oats etc.

Distribution of these sources in a daily diet

Ingredient                                                                              Amount                                                           Omega 3 (gm)

Flax seeds                                                             5gm(1tsp)                                                        1.14

Walnut                                                                  10gm                                                                 0.3

Soybeans                                                            30gm                                                                 0.6

Oats                                                                    40gm                                                                 0.56

Total                                                                                                                                              2.64

So, for vegetarians, it is not a challenge to meet the omega 3 fatty acid requirements during pregnancy. With the help of below-given tips, you can successfully include Omega-3 Fatty Acids in your meal on a regular basis:

  • Powdered flax seeds in

a. Dough

b. Buttermilk

c. Dal

d. curry

  • 5 walnuts per day as a snack along with other nuts or as topping on a veg curry, fruit salad etc.

  • Include Soybeans in your diet in the form of curry or simply boiled

  • Soy flour mixed with wheat flour, use it for thickening soup, or as a part of multigrain dosa batter. (Should not consume more than 50 gm per day because it can be lead to constipation or gassiness problem).

  • Oats can be used in preparing

a. Khichdi

b. Upma

c. Crushed oats in idli/ dosa batter

d. Oatmeal

e. Oats cooked in water & mixed with curd, buttermilk, thin dal, mix vegetables

f. Plain oats flour mixed in the wheat flour for making chapattis

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  • To reap the complete benefits of this nutrient, pregnant women with GDM, Gallbladder stone & obesity are recommended to consume this nutrient in a moderate amount.
  • For expectant moms who are vegetarian & allergic to nuts & oil seeds can rely on Omega 3 supplements as per your obstetrician’s advice.

Contributed by -

Ms Savitri

(Clinical Nutritionist, Jayanagar.)

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