The Use of Omega-3 During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an anabolic state where energy requirements, along with the need for vitamins and minerals, increase. The development and health of the fetus are closely related to the mother’s nutrition. Inadequate nutrition and deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes. In addition to sufficient weight gain during pregnancy, it is recommended for expectant mothers to consume iron, vitamin D, calcium, folic acid, and Omega-3 fatty acids for the healthy development of the fetus. The importance of taking iron, folic acid, and calcium during pregnancy and lactation has been emphasized in recent years. Omega-3 fatty acids have now been added to this list of requirements.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
These are polyunsaturated essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the human body and must be obtained from external sources. Fats consist of a main structure and three fatty acids attached to this structure, providing the characteristics of the fat. Fatty acids are made up of carbon atoms, each connected by four electron bonds. The bonds between carbon atoms are named with Latin letters such as alpha, beta, omega. If two carbon atoms in the omega bond are connected by sharing two electrons, it is called omega-3 unsaturated fatty acid. If there is a single bond between two carbons, each carbon transforms into a saturated fatty acid by receiving two hydrogen atoms.
These are essential substances used not only during pregnancy but also in the body of every individual. Omega-3 is crucial for the health of both the mother and the baby. While EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) mainly supports heart health, the immune system, and inflammatory responses, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is essential for the brain, eyes, and central nervous system.
WHY IS OMEGA-3 IMPORTANT?
A sufficient amount of Omega-3 fatty acids is necessary for the proper and balanced production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins play a role in regulating many physiological functions, including blood pressure, clotting, nerve transmission, inflammatory and allergic reactions, kidney and digestive system functions, and the production of other important hormones. Omega-3 fatty acids play a significant role in preventing heart diseases, developing cognitive functions, and regulating inflammatory responses by contributing to the production of beneficial prostaglandins.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found mainly in fish, dark green leafy vegetables, sunflower, and walnuts. In many cases, the diet alone is insufficient to meet the omega-3 needs.
BENEFITS OF TAKING OMEGA-3 DURING PREGNANCY:
- Prevents the risk of premature birth and low birth weight.
- Reduces the risk of preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension).
- Lowers the risk of postpartum depression and memory problems.
- Positively affects the proper development of the baby’s eyes, brain, and nervous system.
- Enhances the positive development of the baby’s mental, motor, cognitive, and neurological functions.
- Supports the healthy development of the baby’s immune system.
- Reduces the occurrence of childhood allergic diseases such as dermatitis, eczema, and asthma.
The need for Omega-3 fatty acids increases, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy. It is recommended to take at least 200 mg of DHA daily during pregnancy. Moreover, some studies suggest that the use of Omega-3 in advanced age delays ovarian aging and positively affects egg quality. Research results have also been published indicating a higher rate of pregnancy achieved in those who increased Omega-3 fatty acid levels during IVF treatment compared to those who did not.
- Pregnant women need Omega-3 as much as non-pregnant women.
- It is advisable to start taking Omega-3 at the beginning of pregnancy or, ideally, when planning to become pregnant.
- To avoid mercury toxicity, pregnant women should obtain Omega-3 from three sources:
- Plant oils
- Consumption of fish twice a week
- EPA and DHA or DHA-containing Omega-3 supplements
For detailed information and assistance on this matter, you can contact Dr. Müstecep Kavrut at 0532 431 03 06 or 0212 310 31 00.
For more information and to get personalized assistance, you can schedule free preliminary meetings at our center. Feel free to ask your questions by providing your phone number and email address, or by filling out our consultation form, and we will get back to you with detailed information and assistance.