Responsible pregnant women make the development of their child a top priority. As such, women put lots of importance on the healthy diet that promotes the development of their babies during pregnancy. Omega-3 is the star of such diets, and it is well-known as safe and healthy not just for pregnant women but also those who are nursing or are simply planning to be pregnant.
Omega-3 fatty acids are well known to give a boost to a baby’s development. The best ones can found in fish products, notably good old fish meat and fish oil supplements. Both are well-known as excellent sources of two kinds of Omega-3, namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This the question: which among fish and fish oil supplements is the superior source of Omega-3?
Some can argue out of a simple common sense that fish oil, albeit artificially manufactured, has a better concentration of Omega-3 than the same amount of fish. Whether or not this is true, experts say that one is better off getting their Omega-3 by eating a whole fish. Certain studies have suggested that eating an actual fish can provide more consistent benefits than fish oil supplements as most fish species sold in the market make for good sources of iodine, lean protein, selenium, Vitamin D, and a whole lot more on top of the Omega-3 fatty acids that you are looking for it. For this reason, doctors and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) itself recommend women to eat a diet that includes 8 to 12 oz. of seafood in a week. The equates to getting an average amount of 250 mg. of Omega-3 per day.
However, we do have one little problem with fish as well as other seafood. Some species are known to have high levels of mercury which does the exact opposite of Omega-3 – Mercury inhibits brain development. Environment Working Group (EWG) has recently released a report that shows how following FDA’s guidelines on seafood consumption may harm babies by exposing them to more mercury than Omega-3.
The group has made recommendations for pregnant or nursing women to aim for a weekly serving of 1 to 4 oz. of fish that’s low in mercury and high in Omega-3. The best seafood species that fit EWG’s list include the Atlantic mackerel, mussels, rainbow trout, sardines, and wild salmon.
Unfortunately, it appears that not everyone has the palate for fish. While the more informed part of the populace worry about fish’s mercury content and other contaminants, some are concerned about sustainability. There are also others who simply can’t eat fish and other marine produce due to dietary reasons like vegetarianism, religious dietary restrictions, or plain and straightforward lack or scarcity of seafood in the area, a case where getting seafood is more of a hassle than what it’s worth. Regardless of their reason, these people will find a viable and excellent alternative source of Omega-3 in fish oil supplements.
Individuals who eat fish have the advantage of effortlessly getting FDA’s recommended amount of Omega-3 from just their diet. On the other hand, vegetarians and everyone else who don’t eat fish will need fish oil supplements to add to their consumption, although this can sometimes prove expensive. Fortunately, they also have the option of going for alternative sources like nuts, vegetables, and related products which include canola oil, chia seeds, flax seeds, soybean oil. These alternative Omega-3 sources contain a third fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). However, these sources are not as efficient as seafood and fish oil supplements when it comes to providing essential fatty acids to pregnant women.
That said, fish oil supplements remain as the best alternative source of Omega-3 fatty acids for women who are pregnant or are nursing their children if they are not keen on adding fish or other seafood to their diet. One thing that these women should take note of is that they should not confuse between plain fish oil and fish liver oil. The difference goes beyond that one word, as fish liver oil contain a lot of Vitamin A. Excessive Vitamin A when taken during pregnancy is known to cause birth defects.
The conclusion that we can derive from all these is that fish remains the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for pregnancy and nursing women as well, especially since they provide a broad range of benefits that go beyond what Omega-3 can give. Despite the fact that these foods may contain mercury and other contaminants, the right choice of seafood can easily help you avoid or healthily mitigate the accumulation of unwanted stuff in your system. However, fish oil supplements are also an excellent alternative to fish and other seafood, and this is the right fit for people who, for whatever reason, cannot have fish on their dining table.