My wife is pregnant. With twins!
We get excited and nervous when it’s time for our monthly doctor’s visit. We do absolutely everything we can to make sure our little bundles of joy are growing and healthy.
You probably know the feeling.
As a nutritionist who has been studying fish oil and Omega-3 for over 20 years, it’s time to practice what I’ve been preaching for so long.
I used to have a very hard time convincing pregnant women that fish oil and pregnancy should go hand in hand.
It was a tough sell.
Women had been scared to death about the dangers of mercury in fish.
In the 80′s, we started avoiding the sun.
And in the 90′s, we started avoiding seafood.
Thank you, TV.
But things are changing.
So is it safe?
My pregnant wife takes 4 pharmaceutical grade fish oil pills every day. (See her dosage details below)
After working in the fish oil industry for almost 20 years, I know the risks. The risk is not fish oil. The risk comes from NOT taking fish oil. Not taking fish oil leads to poor development of your baby’s brain and eyes.
Pregnancy is not the time for discount fish oil. Pharmaceutical grade fish oil is definitely cleaner and purer than regular drug store fish oils. And the peace of mind is worth the added cost.
The Truth About Mercury and Fish Oil during Pregnancy
The truth is, fish meat has mercury. Fish oil does not. I’ll explain why in a second.
First, here are the fish to avoid: tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel. These fish are large predatory fish that live for many years, which gives them a chance to accumulate mercury in their bodies. Canned tuna and Halibut can also be high in mercury.
Fish Oil During Pregnancy:
OmegaVia is NOT a prenatal supplement. OmegaVia is perfect for you, mommy. But for baby, we recommend that you take a high-DHA supplement. We like is Carlson Super DHA Gems.
What’s safe to eat during pregnancy? Sardine and wild pacific sockeye salmon are both excellent.
Fish oil does NOT contain mercury.
Even the cheap, low-quality fish oils have virtually no mercury. Why? Because of three reasons:
- Methyl mercury, the form of mercury found in fish is not soluble in oil. The mercury is separated from the fish when the oil is extracted.
- The molecular distillation process used to make fish oil ensures that any remaining mercury in the crude oil is permanently removed.
- Good quality fish oils are made from small fish that are low on the food chain. These fish don’t have toxic levels of mercury to begin with.
So even the cheap fish oils sold in Walmart do not have mercury in them.
ConsumerLab.com tested 57 brands of fish oil and found no mercury in any of them. A few brands flunked other quality tests but that was because they had low-quality, rancid oil.
Fish Oil During Pregnancy – Why is it Important?
Omega-3 in fish oil is very important in the development of your baby’s brain and eyes. More than half of your baby’s brain and eyes are made of DHA Omega-3.
Fish oil during pregnancy reduces risk of:
Fish oil during pregnancy improves:
DHA can only come from food or supplements. There is no other way to get it.
Everyone needs DHA but the most important time to take fish oil is during pregnancy and during the first couple of years of your child’s life.
But pregnant women were scared and avoiding anything fishy!
The American Psychiatric Association, worried that we were going to have a generation of unhealthy kids, sanctioned a full review of the risks and benefits. They gathered the top doctors in the field to issue a recommendation.
And their recommendation was: Omega-3 EPA and DHA is not only safe but it’s also necessary to take fish oil during pregnancy.
How much fish oil during pregnancy?
Ten years ago, scientists said 300 mg of DHA should be the minimum. This is why the DHA pills your OB/GYN office gave you contain 200 to 300 mg DHA.
But what scientists know about fish oil and pregnancy has changed in the last 10 years. Now, the latest consensus calls for a MINIMUM of 900 mg DHA per day. And that just covers the basic, bare-minimum needs for your baby and your body.
900 mg DHA is the new minimum.
Turns out 90% of pregnant women were not even getting 300 mg a day.
Then why does your prescription prenatal have only 300 mg DHA? Well, their dosage is based on old science. Drug companies and the FDA are very slow to react to new science.
Here’s what some of the popular prenatal supplements contain:
- Expecta: 200 mg DHA per pill
- Prenate: 300 mg DHA per pill
- Prenexa: 300 mg DHA per pill
- CitraNatal: 300 mg DHA per pill
- Duet DHA EC: 295 mg DHA per pill
- NatureMade Folic Acid with DHA: 50 mg DHA per pill
Not enough! Not even close!
NatureMade Folic Acid with DHA contains ONLY 50 mg! That’s crazy! There could be pregnant women taking this product and thinking that their DHA needs are covered. Not even close! Don’t be that woman!
And here’s what my lovely wife took during her pregnancy:
- Two OmegaVia pills = 2210 mg Omega-3 (520 mg DHA)
- Two Carlsons Super DHA Gems = 1000 mg DHA
For a total of 1520 mg DHA per day. Mostly for the twins.
The above dosage also gives her 1760 mg EPA that her body desperately needs. Without it, the risk of postpartum depression increases a lot. So it’s not just your baby who needs fish oil during pregnancy!
A good friend of mine, Dr. John Olson, practices medicine in Indianapolis. He asked me what my wife was taking for DHA. Besides the Calcium, Vitamin D, Multi, Folic and Iron, I told him about her Omega-3 routine.
He said, “Not bad…but could be higher.”
Still think you’re getting enough fish oil during pregnancy?
About the Author: Vin Kutty is OmegaVia’s Scientific Advisor and Chief Blogger. He is a nutritionist, author, and Omega-3 expert with over 20 years of experience. When coffee’d up and fully inspired, he shares Omega-3 info-nuggets on Facebook and Twitter. Email him.