Omega supplementation before, during and after pregnancy:
Supplementation with a good quality omega-3 holds many benefits. The baby needs omega-3 for nervous system1,2 and visual development2 as well as brain function2 and allergy prevention3 support later in life. It can also assist the body of the mother with anti-inflammatory properties4,5 and immune function6 support.
In general our diets do not provide enough omega-3, and it is especially important during pregnancy and while breastfeeding to have optimal nutritional support. Therefore it is good to take an omega-3 supplement to prepare your body when you are planning for, or are pregnant and also while breastfeeding7.
At the moment there are not enough studies to conclude when it is best to start supplementation, however it is known that deposition of these fatty acids which are essential components of membrane phospholipids, are deposited in relatively large amounts in the central nervous system during brain growth and is especially high during the last trimester of pregnancy and first months of life8. Omega-3 supplementation of the mother after the birth of the baby is also important because the DHA status of the breast-fed baby depends on the maternal intake of DHA2.
Greenberg J.A. et al. 2008. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1(4): 162–169.
It is important to make sure that the omega chosen is pure and of good quality. Listed here are specifications to look for9:
- Peroxide value (PV) < 5 meq/kg – an indication of primary oxidation products, a quality measure.
- Anisidine value (AV) < 20 – an indication of secondary oxidation products, a quality measure.
- TOTOX value < 26 – a function of PV and AV, an indication of total oxidation, also a quality measure.
- Dioxins value < 2 pg/g – a factor limiting environmental contaminants, an indication of purity.
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s) value < 0.09 mg/kg – a factor limiting environmental toxins including heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury, in-organic arsenic – each less than 0.1 ppm), an indication of purity.
Omega-3 is available in two different chemical structures, as an ethyl ester and a triglyceride. The main difference between the two is that the triglyceride is immediately available to the body while the ethyl ester has to be converted to the triglyceride before it is absorbed. In the past, there has been some concern regarding the safety of use during pregnancy of the ethyl ester mainly due to the chemical reaction it follows. When an omega in the form of an ethyl ester is converted to a triglyceride before absorption, an alcohol molecule in the form of ethanol is released during the chemical process10. The amount of ethanol released is a very small amount, not enough to hold any risk to the mother or unborn child. Mom2B Pregnancy Omega supplement’s omega-3 is a triglyceride.
Also in the Mom2B range – Mom2B Pregnancy Shakes, Mom2B Pregnancy Supplement capsules as well as the convenient Mom2B Pregnancy Combo Pack- combines a month’s supply of supplements and Omega soft-gel capsules. Mom2B is available at selected pharmacies and retail stores. Visit www.nativa.co.za for more information.
- McNamara R.K. and Carlson S.E. 2006. Role of omega-3 fatty acids in brain development and function: Potential implications for the pathogenesis and prevention of psychopathology. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 75(4–5): 329–349.
- Innis S.M. 2008. Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. Brain Research. 1237: 35–43.
- Pittet Y.K., Berger M.M., et al. 2010. Blunting the response to endotoxin in healthy subjects: effects of various doses of intravenous fish oil. Intensive Care Medicine. 36 (2): 289-295.
- Oien T., Storrø O., et al. 2010. Do early intake of fish and fish oil protect against eczema and doctor-diagnosed asthma at 2 years of age? A cohort study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 64 (2): 124-129.
- Rangel-Huerta O.D., Aguilera C.M., et al. 2012. Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation on inflammatory biomakers: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. The British Journal of Nutrition. 107 (Suppl 2): S159-S170.
- Gorjão R., Verlengia R., et al. 2006. Effect of docosahexaenoic acid-rich fish oil supplementation on human leukocyte function. Clinical Nutrition. 25 (6): 923-38.
- Mahan L.K, et al. 2012. Krause’s food and nutrition care process, 13th edition. Elsevier Saunders Publishers. Page 357.
- Szajewska H., Horvath A. and Koletzko B. 2006. Effect of n–3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation of women with low-risk pregnancies on pregnancy outcomes and growth measures at birth: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 83: 1337–1344.
- Voluntary Monograph. http://www.crnusa.org/pdfs/O3FINALMONOGRAPHdoc.pdf. Accessed August 2013.
- Neubronner J., et al. 2011. Enhanced increase of omega-3 index in response to long-term n-3 fatty acid supplementation from triacylglycerides versus ethyl esters. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 65: 247-254.
- University of Michigan Integrative Medicine. Healing Foods Pyramid™: Fish and Seafood. http://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/fats.html. Accessed August 2013.
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