The Most Essential Nutrient You Never Knew You Needed
By Eliza Leggatt, Nordic Naturals Educator
Most pregnant women know that omega-3 essential fatty acids are important, but many don’t realize how essential they truly are. In fact, omega-3s are crucial not only for baby, but for mother’s own well being too. Often called the “good fats”, these nutrients are essential for optimal health across the lifespan, especially during times of physical and emotional stress. They support normal functioning of the heart and lungs, as well as the brain, skin, joints, and more. In developing babies, they are particularly important during the third trimester, when the brain undergoes the most rapid neurological growth in utero, and relies heavily on the omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as a key structural fat for neuronal tissue.
Unfortunately, omega-3s cannot be produced by the body—much like certain vitamins—and come to us primarily from cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring, etc. Because of concerns about mercury and other environmental contaminants, pregnant women are at a unique disadvantage for getting adequate amounts of these essential nutrients, since they are often told to abstain from fish consumption. The unintended consequence is that moms miss out on the omega-3 nutrients that their babies rely on for proper brain, eye, and nervous system development. In fact, a 2011 petition to the FDA by US Senators Kirsten Gellibrand and Tom Coburn advised balancing the risk of mercury in fish against the importance of omega-3 consumption during pregnancy.
One simple way to avoid the risks associated with eating fish, while ensuring adequate intake of omega-3s, is to choose a high-quality fish oil supplement for daily use during pregnancy and lactation. Just as many of mom’s essential nutrients go to her developing fetus, they also reach her newborn via breast milk. Because of this, a woman’s body may become depleted of omega-3s, so she too can benefit from supplementation; in fact, omega-3s have also been shown to support a healthy mood in moms.
When shopping for a daily omega-3 supplement, choose one that meets or exceeds international standards for omega-3 fish oil purity, freshness, and overall quality shown on fish oil batch tests by independent organizations, as there are no set standards in the US. As the official omega-3 of the American Pregnancy Association, Nordic Naturals® Prenatal DHA is an excellent choice. It is specially formulated for the unique needs of both mom and baby, and meets all the right measures of quality for you to feel comfortable taking it before, during, and after pregnancy.