For several years, I’ve been taking omega-3 supplements occasionally, whenever I feel like it. Since I’ve been pregnant, I became much more diligent with it and did not fail to swallow a few capsules every night with my classical prenatal vitamins. However, I noticed that people around me were asking a lot of questions about these supplements, their interest for our health and if it was recommended to take them during pregnancy. Therefore, I thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss on the blog because these little capsules are excellent for us and they deserve more recognition…
What are omega-3s ?
Omega-3s are what we also call essential fatty acids, composed of two elements : EPA and DHA. As their name indicates, they are essential to the proper functioning of our body, which is unable to synthesize them itself (like vitamin C, for example). For our health, it is necessary to consume enough omega-3s through our daily diet. For an adult, the ideal inputs are 2g to 5g per day, which is quite difficult to achieve with a conventional diet… To give you an idea, in average we consume between 0.10g and 0.20g of omega-3s daily. This is why supplements can be useful !
At one time it was customary to give children a tablespoon of cod liver oil every day. Fatty fish are indeed saturated with omega-3s, and fish oil is still used in the majority of omega-3s supplements nowadays. By the way, I advise you to use these kinds of capsules, because anyone who has tasted cod liver oil has certainly an unpleasant memory to tell…
The benefits of a good intake of omega-3s
For cardiovascular health
Omega-3s are mainly known to reduce cholesterol and promote a proper cardiovascular functioning. Basically, they can help protect the heart, prevent blood clots thanks to a good blood circulation, and even regulate hypertension. I’ve been having high blood pressure since the beginning of my pregnancy, so the omega-3s intake is highly recommended in my case to try to stem the problem.
To control your weight and metabolism
Omega-3s are also well known by fitness addicts and are often sold on websites dedicated to weight loss. Indeed, these essential fatty acids can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight while regulating your metabolism if it is a bit lazy. A sufficient intake of omega-3s can also help prevent diabetes, which can also be useful for pregnant women, often prone to gestational diabetes.
For a mental and psychological balance
Omega-3 supplements have long been recommended for people who suffer from depression, anxiety, emotional disorder or the famous baby blues (here again, a benefit for pregnant women !). A healthy and natural alternative to regular antidepressants, it’s worth a try ! A good intake of omega-3s also helps reduce stress and promote good mood. Other advantages : a fortified nervous system, a better memory, a greater concentration… If you are a student, some omega-3 capsules each day could probably give you a little boost !
An asset for your beauty
Finally, Omega-3s also have benefits for our physical appearance… When I told you that these supplements were excellent for us, I wasn’t lying ! They help hydrate the skin from within (it also works for hair and nails), can help fight skin problems such as acne, psoriasis or eczema, and help regulate poor water retention that may cause heavy legs or aqueous cellulite.
Omega-3s have many other benefits for our health and our immune system, to the point that it would be too long to list them all here. But rest assured that these little essential fatty acids are your allies on all points !
Where can you find omega-3s in your diet ?
As I mentioned earlier, omega-3s are found mainly in fatty fish : salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, fish eggs and of course fish oils…
If you are vegetarian, don’t worry : you’ll find these fatty acids in chia seeds or oil, flax seeds or linseed oil, rapeseed oil or soybean oil, nuts and some salads like lettuce or corn salad.
To get the recommended daily intake of 2g of omega-3s, here are some examples of foods that you should be eating each day :
– 70g of mackerel
– 85g of salmon
– 2 tbsp of soy oil
– 1 tsp of flaxseed oil
However, it is important to note that fish (especially farmed fish) contain more and more mercury and pesticides, and are therefore potentially harmful to your health. Increasing your consumption of fish would be beneficial to your health in principle, because it would give you a better intake of omega-3s (among other things), but these positive effects could be offset by the toxicity of heavy metals and other chemicals that can be found in seafood…
For those who prefer the vegetarian option, also know that omega-3s from plants are less well absorbed by the body than those from animal products. If you want to increase your daily intake of omega-3s, I suggest you use dietary supplements, but this is only my personal opinion.
To choose the right ones, make sure that the fish used are wild and not farmed fish, and avoid salmon oil, because it’s often contaminated. The capsules should contain a ratio of about 60% EPA and 40% DHA, such as these omega-3 capsules.
The importance of omega-3s during pregnancy
Before taking any omega-3 supplement during my pregnancy, I obviously made my research to be sure it was not a mistake, and I have read only positive things on the topic.
For the mom to be
As I mentioned earlier, omega-3s help regulate many ailments that some future and young mothers know very well : high blood pressure, poor circulation and water retention, diabetes, postpartum depression… In short, omega-3s have a lot of positive effects, and even if it doesn’t work for you, it is not likely to harm you. In my case, I was especially interested in the benefits for the baby…
For the baby
Although studies on the subject are scarce, it’s been shown that a good intake of omega-3s could have serious benefits for the baby’s development, especially for the nervous system and the eyes. Any future mom knows the importance of an adequate intake of folic acid throughout pregnancy (and even before). But we often ignore that omega-3s are also much needed ! They help nerve connections form properly. A study has also shown that 8 year old children whose mothers had consumed more fish – and therefore more omega-3s – during pregnancy were showing greater intelligence than other children the same age… I do not guarantee that your child will be smarter if you take omega-3s during your pregnancy, but you have more chance of avoiding a nervous system malfunction or a brain or eyes malformation, and it’s already a great thing !