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You are here: Home - Pregnancy - Pregnancy Nutrition

Pregnant? Increase the Omega-3s

by Hannah Chow | April 8, 2015 9:42 AM
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Maintaining a steady diet of fruits, vegetables, and protein is the surest way to know you are getting enough nutrients. As an expectant mother, it's hard to get every single vitamin into your diet. Doctors suggest a plethora of vitamins to expectant mothers just to be sure that all nutritional deficiencies are covered. During pregnancy, your body is used as a vessel to transport the appropriate nutrients and vitamins to a growing fetus. Omega-3 fatty acids might be the most important. Deficiencies in these essentials vitamins can cause birth defects. The first visit at your doctor's office ends with them giving you a list of foods you can and cannot eat and a prescription for prenatal vitamins. After leaving, now it's up to you to make sure your unborn child is receiving the nutrients needed to grow successfully inside the womb.

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for the baby's brain development. Adding fatty fish to your diet twice a week might satisfy any and all oil deficiencies. However, expectant mothers are told to avoid fish high in mercury. If you are worried about the mercury and do not want to change your diet, you might want to add a complete omega supplement. Your doctor can recommend a specific over the counter brand or write a prescription. Many Omega-3 supplements contain the right oils and many do not have any mercury in them.

Good Fat and Bad Fat: Know the Difference

There is such a thing as good fat and bad fat though. Essential fatty acids are omega-3s and omega-6s. Both are important for your own health and your unborn child but not being balanced with both can also cause health problems. Unfortunately many Americans have deficiencies in omega-3 and consume way too much omega-6. The point is, your body needs both but most American diets contain fifteen times the amount of omega-6 compared to omega-3 and asking your doctor about a supplement you can take to bring back the balance between them might be one of the best decisions you can make for your health and you unborn child's health.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 oil can be found in soybean oil and sunflower oil. It's also found in a lot of processed foods, the organ meats of animals, and egg yolks. Try substituting pork, beef, and chicken organ meats for fresh salmon. Also eat only egg whites and avoid the yolks at all costs. Making some small daily changes to your diet can bring back the omega-3 balance in your body. Here are a few other tips that may help: buy organic foods, eat only grass fed animals, and use canola oil for cooking.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 oil can be found in flaxseed oil, walnut oil, and fatty fish. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 and perfect for expectant mothers because it contains low amounts of mercury. According to Reader's Digest, "You can find these fats in a variety of sources, including spinach, mustard greens, wheat germ, walnuts, flaxseed (and flaxseed oil), soybean and canola oil, and even pumpkin seeds. But the very best source is fish."

Balance

Maintaining the proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help prevent clogged arteries, heart disease, stroke, and memory loss. Catharine Field, a registered dietician and professor of nutrition at the University of Alberta said in an interview with U.S. News, "Omega 3's are needed for the infants brain and nervous system to develop properly. Also, the membranes of every cell in a person's body contain omega-3 fatty acids. They are needed for the cell to grow and function."

Taking Care of Your Seedlings

During pregnancy, the baby is growing and developing just like a seed planted in a garden. Mothers patiently wait for the seed to develop roots, buds, leaves, and eventually become ready for harvest time. The mothers job is to care for, water, and make sure that seed is getting appropriate nutrients to eventually thrive on its own. A woman's body is the container, soil, and water of a small space garden. Take care of your seed. Take care of your plant and after many weeks of watering your garden with the appropriate nutrients (also known as omega-3 fatty acids), a beautiful plant will sprout and your hard work will be displayed for every passerby to admire.

At the end of the day, some mothers may not care about their own health and nutrition balance but when it comes to children, a natural nurturing instinct comes out that cannot be ignored. Take care of your seedlings. Get the right omega-3 vitamins knowing that your children will reap the rewards when they get accepted to a prestigious college because their brain developed to a genius status. Omega-3 fatty acids obviously cannot take all the credit but start forming your baby's intelligence levels now by focusing on foods that assist with brain development.

Hannah Chow is a lifestyle blogger who resides in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband, Allan Chow, and their pug, Brutus. Hannah has a B.A. in English from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. She takes all things in good humor and has pride in being perceptive and communicative.

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