No doubt you’ve heard the adage that expectant moms are “eating for two.” That may have some credence, too, especially as it relates to fatty acid intake and expenditure during the last trimester of the pregnancy.
It’s during that time the growing child puts extra fatty acid demands on Mom—to the tune of about 50 to 60mg of them per day, mostly in the form of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid.
It’s no wonder, then, that moms-to-be are encouraged to shore up their DHA supply and reserves. One way or the other, the growing baby is going to tap into them—especially during the last few months in utero.
And it’s easy to see why omega-3s, especially DHA, are so important.
A number of studies have found that high levels of omega-3s during a woman’s pregnancy—through diet or supplements—are associated with positive cognitive development in her child.† Additional benefits of sufficient omega-3 intake for expectant mothers include a good nervous system development as well as better eyesight from retina formation for the baby.†
But the importance of adequate omega-3 intake doesn’t stop there.
Over the last few years, emerging research has extolled the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids where cardiovascular health is concerned.† In fact, the cardiovascular system must also increase its workload when a woman is pregnant. Making sure Mom has enough omega-3s, especially DHA, is a smart, heart-healthy choice.†
Simply put, omega-3s EPA and DHA are critical for fetal growth, as these omega-3 oils constitute 70% of the developing baby’s brain.† And while we’re on the subject…interestingly enough, the brain’s neural membranes are made up of a double layer of fatty acid molecules that come directly from the diet. Incidentally, DHA cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources or a high-quality omega-3 supplement.
Healthy fats like omega-3s produce healthy neural membranes, allowing the brain’s cells to communicate with each other while fostering brain health and memory. † The omega-3 DHA is particularly beneficial for brain health and is the most abundant fat in the brain, but that goes for everyone—including moms and their babies.†
The bottom line is that pregnancy can place high demands on a woman’s body and can deplete her DHA reserves if she is not intentional about maintaining them. When it comes to these fatty acids, it may be smart to eat for two.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.