How to Choose High-Quality Omega-3s for Pregnancy and Postpartum

As an expectant or new mom, you know that your body's nutritional needs are unique during pregnancy and postpartum. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA, are essential for the healthy development of your baby's brain and eyes during pregnancy and can continue to benefit both you and your little one as you navigate the early stages of motherhood.

95% of childbearing-age women in the United States do not consume enough DHA & EPA. But with so many Omega-3 supplements on the market, how do you choose the best one for you and your baby's needs? Let's explore what to look for in a high-quality Omega-3 supplement that supports you on this incredible journey of motherhood.

Optimal DHA Content:

DHA is the superstar when it comes to brain and eye development. Look for an Omega-3 supplement with a high DHA content, as it plays a vital role in your baby's cognitive development and vision during pregnancy. For postpartum support, DHA continues to benefit your little one as they grow, contributing to healthy brain function and visual acuity. 

Studies show beneficial effects (better hand-eye coordination & problem solving) in children at age 2 1/12 and 4 when mothers supplemented with 2,200 mg and 1,200 mg of DHA respectively during their pregnancies. We recommend consuming at least 300 mg DHA daily to ensure you and baby are getting adequate amounts. Bottom line: higher doses are beneficial, but 300 mg daily is necessary. 

Balanced DHA-to-EPA Ratio:

While DHA is crucial for your baby's brain development, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) also holds its own when it comes to supporting overall health. EPA helps transport DHA across the placenta. EPA helps with inflammation management, cardiovascular health, and mood support, which are all essential during pregnancy and postpartum. Look for a supplement with a balanced DHA-to-EPA ratio to reap the full benefits of both fatty acids. For example: 300 mg of EPA and 300 mg of DHA.

Plant-Based Omega-3s:

Your body is not able to convert plant-based Omega 3s, like ALA, into DHA in amounts that satisfy your & baby's needs. If you are vegetarian or vegan, know that Flaxseed oil is not a source of DHA and cannot be substituted for a fish-oil supplement. Algae-based DHA supplements are the only plant-based source of DHA. 

Buy an Omega-3 Separate From Your Prenatals: 

This is a big one that's unknown and often overlooked. Oils go rancid. The stability of EPA and DHA are compromised when combined with a multivitamin/mineral supplement, so we don’t do it. Oxidation of fish oils is extremely common in supplements due to temperature variations, light exposure, and processing techniques. Rancid oils not only smell bad, but they are ineffective and even impact health negatively. Maintaining quality means separating these oils from our daily prenatals.

Purity and Quality:

Your baby deserves the best, which means choosing an Omega-3 supplement that's free from harmful contaminants like heavy metals, PCBs, and other toxins. Look for supplements that undergo third-party testing to ensure they meet strict quality and purity standards. These certifications provide peace of mind, knowing you're providing your baby with a safe and pure supplement.

Sustainability and Source:

The source of Omega-3s matters not only for the health of your baby but also for the health of our planet. Seek out supplements made from sustainable sources, such as wild-caught fish (krill or cod liver) or algae-derived DHA. Supporting sustainable practices helps protect marine ecosystems and ensures the health of future generations.

Easy to Take and Digest:

As a busy mom-to-be or new mom, convenience matters. Choose a supplement that is easy to take, whether in the form of soft gels or liquid. Additionally, consider any potential digestive issues or sensitivities you might have and opt for a supplement that won't cause discomfort. We recommend taking your fish oil at night to avoid the unpleasant symptoms so many of us experience: fish burps. :)

Dietary Considerations: 

Fish and seafood naturally supply both EPA & DHA, in addition to many other nutrients. If you consume 2-3 servings of food like salmon, herring, sardines, trout, mussels, or fish eggs (from cold water, fatty fish) per week, you can meet your body's DHA needs. Omega-3 eggs, and meat, dairy or organs from pastured animals are other good, although less dense, sources of DHA. If you do not consume these foods regularly, a supplement is highly advisable. 

As you embark on the remarkable journey of pregnancy and motherhood, nourishing yourself and your baby with the right nutrients is paramount. A high-quality Omega-3 supplement with optimal DHA content, purity, sustainability, and a balanced DHA-to-EPA ratio can provide the support you need during pregnancy and beyond.

Prioritize your baby's brain development and your own well-being by selecting a trusted Omega-3 supplement that aligns with your values and nutritional needs. Always consult with your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your routine to ensure they are the right fit for you and your baby. Embrace this transformative time with the confidence that you are making the best choices for you and your little one's health and happiness.