Pregnant women missing omega-3s

A new Canadian study finds that the majority of pregnant women aren’t getting the recommended dose of the critical fatty acids.

Pregnant women aren’t getting enough omega-3s. Even the educated, wealthy ones. And they get even less while breastfeeding three months after delivering their babies. This is according to results of the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON), a cohort study of women and their infants conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.

The project’s overall purpose was to study 2,000 women and their infants to help understand the relationship between maternal nutrient status during pregnancy and maternal mental and child health and development, according to a release from Canadian Science Publishing. The research was noted on

Part of the project studied the omega-3 intake of 600 women to see how much of the long-chain fatty acids, critical to fetal, placental and infant development, they consume. Not enough, it seems, according to the study, published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism:

“Only 27 percent of women during pregnancy and 25 percent at three months postpartum met the current European Union (EU) consensus recommendation for DHA. Seafood, fish and seaweed products contributed to 79 percent of overall n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids intake from foods, with the majority from salmon. Results suggest that the majority of women in the cohort were not meeting the EU recommendation for DHA during pregnancy and lactation.”

The American Dietetic Association and the Dietitians of Canada recommend that all healthy adults including pregnant and lactating women consume at least 500 mg of omega-3s per day The European Commission and the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL) specifically recommends that pregnant and lactating women consume a minimum of 200 mg DHA per day.

In the U.S., men only get 50 percent and women only get 40 percent of the omega-3s they need each day according to the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s.

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