Nutrition experts continually discover powerful health benefits provided by Omega-3 fatty acids — namely alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3s have holistic, across-the-board benefits that are especially crucial for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Several studies show that omega-3s are vital before, during and after pregnancy.
Omega-3s are essential fats, which means the body needs them to stay healthy. Although you can synthesize most of the fat you need, that isn't the case with omega-3s. Instead, they have to be acquired through diet and the foods you eat. An adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids is very much essential if you are pregnant or nursing. If you need more reasons to incorporate omega-3s into your diet, here are some of its other nifty benefits.
Supports your baby's development
If you're breastfeeding, you serve as one of your baby's primary sources of nutrition. Omega-3 DHA has been shown to promote infants' growth and development, is vital for their brain development, and facilitates learning ability.
Consuming a sufficient amount of omega-3s during your pregnancy and breastfeeding journey translates into multiple benefits for your child, including higher attention span and intelligence, better social skills, and decreased risks of congenital disabilities. Since DHA accounts for more than half of the polyunsaturated acids in the eye's retina, it's no surprise that children who are DHA-fortified have better eyesight, too!
Reduces the risk of postpartum depression
Research suggests that women with low levels of omega-3 in their system while pregnant and breastfeeding may be more susceptible to postpartum depression. Several studies point out that people who suffer from depression have lower levels of DHA and EPA in their blood. Due to its significant role in brand chemistry, omega-3s is often used as a professional prescription for depression in adults. That said, omega-3s can be used to either serve as prevention or help significantly improve symptoms of depression.
Lowers the risk of hypertension
Women tend to have higher blood pressure during pregnancy. While it can fall outside of at-risk zones and usually goes away after childbirth, some continue to drag onto postpartum and raise risks of hypertension in severe cases. Research finds that high blood pressure is likely to linger after pregnancy in women with low omega-3 fatty acids levels. On the other hand, high omega-3 levels are associated with a reduced likelihood of hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms and unhealthy fats in the bloodstream.
Improves sleep quality
Rest and sleep are vital for the new mum's postpartum recovery, and research shows that omega-3 fats may help you get that much-needed shut-eye. Low DHA levels have been linked to lower melatonin levels, also known as the hormone that helps humans fall asleep. Comprehensive studies in both children and adults have shown that omega-3s increase the quality and length of sleep.
Improves bone and joint health
Eating a bone-healthy diet throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding is essential. Studies have shown that women often lose 3 to 5 percent of bone mass during breastfeeding, although it is recovered rapidly after weaning. Research indicates that DHA and EPA curb stiffness and joint pain and that fish oil supplements improve bone strength by boosting the amount of calcium in bones.
Studies have consistently observed a connection between higher omega-3 intake and reduced inflammation. Omega-3s reduce the production of substances linked to inflammation, such as cytokines. With its anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3s benefit gut health, among many other things. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to relieve pain and inflammation without interfering with normal immune functions.
Supports optimal immunity
On top of its anti-inflammatory properties, new research shows that omega-3s, most notably DHA and EPA, support the immune system by influencing the functions of immune cells, most notably the white blood cells known as B cells. Findings hint at omega-3s' possible immune-enhancing properties that could benefit immune-compromised individuals.
Where can you get omega-3s?
While ALA is found mainly in plant oils, such as soybean and canola oils, DHA and EPA are found in fish and seafood.
Most official guidelines, including from the World Health Organization, advise lactating women to add 300mg more DHA in their diet in addition to their regular dose. Animal-based sources for omega-3 fatty acids include anchovies, herring, mackerel, marlin, salmon, sardines, oysters, shrimp, sturgeon, trout, and tuna. Fish liver oils are a great source, too, as well as eggs fortified with omega-3.
Vegetable alternatives of omega-3 include chia seeds, canola oil, flaxseed oil, kidney beans, soybean oil, and walnuts. While up to 3,000mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day is considered safe, it would be wise for you to consult with your doctor about your recommended nutrient intake.
Here at Yue Zi Le, we understand that it can be challenging for you to achieve your nutritional needs while taking care of your newborn and your wide array of new responsibilities. As Singapore's leading confinement food-only caterer, we offer a comprehensive confinement food menu filled with nutritious meals that supports your doctor-recommended dietary requirements or confinement meal preferences. To learn more, drop us a call at +65 8448 1177 for delectable Chinese confinement food delivered straight to your doorstep.