Fish Oil: Good For Pregnancy?

Omega 3 fatty acids are important for good cardiovascular health, and the best version of omega 3 is to be found in fish oil. Pregnancy benefits are often touted as one of its assets, such as a decreased risk of premature birth, and possibly increased intelligence and coordination in the infant. While a magic pill like this would be nice, the picture is not so clear on how beneficial fish oil can be for pregnancy.

Several small studies have suggested a possible link between fish oil use during pregnancy, and an increase in the cognitive development of babies such as increased IQ and hand/eye coordination. Fish oil contains two main types of omega 3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA. DHA is the one generally associated with the most health benefits, and is the one studied for cognitive benefits in babies. Not only this, but there is also some evidence that DHA intake may help reduce the risk of premature births and even help lower the risk of postpartum depression.

However, many of these studies were small and a few showed conflicting results. A larger study by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010 found, via the study of 2000 pregnant women, that there was no obvious benefit in taking fish oil while pregnant, either for cognitive benefit to the baby or postpartum depression for the mother. This has been somewhat disappointing, as there was a great amount of hope for fish oil as a highly useful pregnancy supplement.

But, all is not lost.

For one thing, scientific evidence is always provisional; everyone is familiar with how the news flip flops from things that are good for you to suddenly being bad for you. There have been enough studies that have suggested benefits of taking fish oil during pregnancy, and since it’s probably a safe supplement, it might be good to add to your diet while you are pregnant. Keep it to the recommended amount (1000 to 2000 mgs per day), and stick with a high quality supplement.