4 Ways Omega-3 Fatty Acids Could Benefit Pregnant Women
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are known to have several healthful benefits, some examples of which are acting as antioxidants that protect the cells, serving as anti-inflammatory agents, and preventing the build-up of cholesterol on arterial walls.
Normal individuals can gain a lot from regularly taking omega-3 fatty acids, either from fish oil pills as dietary supplements or from certain species of fish such as tuna and salmon. But could the same health benefits be applicable to pregnant women?
What has been observed?
No definitive or conclusive studies have been conducted to support the idea that omega-3s are beneficial to pregnant women. However, some meta-studies and anecdotal personal observations noted positive effects of the supplement in terms of disease prevention and disease mitigation, such as alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Some scientific studies have shown that regular intake of fish oil supplements reduces the production of triglycerides, which is a risk factor for stroke. Meanwhile, regularly eating seafood at least once a week significantly reduces the risks of heart disease.
On the other hand, no significant ill effects have been discovered so far, except for possible allergic reactions among those who are already allergic to seafood.
Pregnant women should still consult their OB/GYNs for risk assessment and confirm the correct dosage. Seafood should be part of a balanced diet because other micronutrients and minerals such as iodine can be mainly derived from seafood.
Here are some ways that pregnant women may benefit from regular intake of omega-3 acids, either from supplements or from seafood:
The production of prostaglandin triggers uterine contractions that lead to delivery. Normally, this hormone is released at the end of the gestation period when the fetus has sufficiently matured to survive outside the womb.
However, mothers who are under stress or who have sustained injuries may produce stress hormones, which include prostaglandins. This could trigger premature birth, which could endanger the lives of both the mother and the baby.
Omega-3 fatty acids suppress the production and binding of prostaglandins to receptors, thereby preventing pre-term labor. Aside from omega-3, other supplements for pregnancy may also be taken, like multivitamins.
2. May aid in reducing swelling or edema
If you are in the last trimester of pregnancy, you are likely to experience edema or the swelling of the extremities, particularly your feet. During pregnancy, the body retains more fluids, like extra blood and water, which are needed by the mother to support the growing baby inside her.
Edema is also caused by the accumulation of excess metabolic wastes from the cells that are not immediately processed by the kidneys because of the extra workload.
Fish oils are precursors to anti-inflammatory substances known as eicosanoids. Edema per se does not involve inflammatory reactions, but it can cause joint inflammation. Fish oils can significantly reduce inflammation of all sorts and also help reduce the blood pressure. These will contribute to alleviating edema.
If you are pregnant, you are likely to suffer from joint pains because of edema and inflammation of the joints. The extra weight can also cause stress on your joints.
Inflammation, regardless of the triggering mechanism (allergy, injury or infection), involves four major biochemical and physiological events:
· The first event is the increase of blood supply to the affected area.
· Second is the increased permeability of the capillaries that allow larger molecules to pass through, delivering soluble inflammatory mediators.
· Third is the migration of the leukocytes from the capillaries into the surrounding tissues.
· Finally, the fourth event is the release of the inflammatory mediators into the affected area.
Omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the release of the inflammatory mediators by helping in the maintenance of the integrity and homeostasis of the phospholipids of the cell membranes.
Aside from the direct benefits for the mother, fish oil supplements can also help in the development of the fetus. One study that compared two groups of pregnant women showed that the babies of those who took supplements during pregnancy have significantly better hand-eye coordination and brain development.
The various benefits and low risks associated with omega-3 supplements during pregnancy are sufficient incentives for mothers to include supplements and seafood in their diet.
Gehana Kennedy is the owner of vitaminshop.ae, the go-to source for high-quality wellness products including a range of step-by-step formulated vitamins, fitness supplements, and natural skin care products. With innovative ideas and implementation of new technologies, she was able to establish a platform that offers not only quality products but also valuable information for customers.