Omega 3 for Pregnancy: How, When & Why To Take It

Omega 3 for Pregnancy: How, When & Why To Take It


Many people have embraced omega-3 for its many potential health benefits, and it may even be more beneficial during pregnancy. As it turns out, omega-3 serves several important functions for a mother and her baby, from forming important cells during fetal development to supporting the mother’s overall health and wellness. 

As you look for a prenatal vitamin that will provide you with the nutrients you need during and after pregnancy, make sure to choose one with high levels of omega-3s.

What Is Omega-3?

Omega-3 is an essential, healthy fat that plays several roles in the body. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that serve as important building blocks for cell membranes and influence how cells interact with each other. In doing so, they help to support healthy interactions between cells and maintain your overall health.

The three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a short-chain omega-3 precursor
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

Out of the three different omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA are the most important to consider as they provide the most general health benefits and are less common in a standard diet. ALA is also much easier to obtain through a standard diet and doesn’t require much thought.

Some of the benefits of omega-3 include:

  • Supporting a healthy blood pressure
  • Helping to support normal cholesterol metabolism 
  • Supporting joint health
  • Helping to maintain healthy cognitive functioning, like memory and motor skills
  • Supporting a healthy heart

Why Should You Take Omega-3 During Pregnancy?

Why Should You Take Omega-3 During Pregnancy?

Omega-3 fats provide many benefits for supporting anyone’s general health, but they are even more helpful during pregnancy. Particularly, DHA and EPA are vital to promoting the health of both the baby and the mother, as they serve several functions.

DHA is found in both brain cells and eye cells, especially in the retina, demonstrating that it has a key role in both brain and eye development. However, some studies have also shown that omega-3-rich seafood consumption can support healthy baby birth weights. Other studies have demonstrated other potential benefits of consuming omega-3s, like supporting overall healthy gestation periods.

Omega-3s offer potential benefits not just for the baby but also for the mother. For example, EPA demonstrates the potential to support a positive mood and maintain general wellness.

Since pregnancy puts such a heavy demand on a mother, having enough of the right nutrients can go a long way to supporting her recovery after birth. The other potential benefits of omega-3 fats, like supporting healthy blood pressure and maintaining healthy cholesterol metabolism, can also support overall health and wellness.

When Should You Start Taking Omega-3?

When Should You Start Taking Omega-3?

The truth is that you should always be consuming omega-3 regularly because of its many potential health benefits. Regardless, it is never too late to start, especially if you are going to be supporting a growing baby.

If you are currently looking forward to pregnancy, you should typically start taking omega-3 as soon as possible. In an ideal situation, start at least a month before conception. If you haven’t been thinking that far ahead, start taking omega-3 and a prenatal vitamin as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

The baby’s brain and nervous system start developing within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Since DHA plays such a critical role in brain and eye formation, you want your body to be able to pass as much on to the baby as possible during this time.

Because of its important role in the baby’s neurodevelopment and supporting your overall health, you should start taking omega-3 immediately when you know you are pregnant. The baby is growing throughout pregnancy, though, so it is better late than never — for example, taking DHA supplements during the third trimester may be better than failing to take them at all.

Don’t stop taking omega-3s once the baby is born, either. Consistently taking DHA and EPA allows you to provide the most nutrition for your baby while breastfeeding. These two nutrients continue to play a key role in your little one’s health throughout childhood as they support both cognitive development and eye development.

How Much Omega-3 Do You Need?

Since omega-3 is important, make sure that you are obtaining enough in your daily diet. Everyone should consume sources of all three omega-3 fats on a daily basis just to support their overall health and wellness. During pregnancy, though, the need for nutrients becomes greater, so you should make sure you are consuming enough of each.

Experts generally recommend that women consume at least 1.1 grams of ALA omega-3s daily. However, experts recommend that pregnant women obtain a higher 1.6 grams of ALA from the time of gestation all the way through the breastfeeding period.For the average individual, experts recommend obtaining around 250mg of DHA and EPA omega-3s daily. During pregnancy, the amount of DHA you need can be even higher.

How Can You Get More Omega-3?

Once you know how crucial omega-3 is, you just need to know how to include it in your diet. Generally, you do not have to worry about obtaining enough ALA since it is abundant in a Western diet. If you are hoping to increase your ALA intake, you can simply include more flax seeds or plant oils in your diet. 

Your focus should be on getting more DHA and EPA omega-3s in your diet since they are in fewer foods and provide more valuable benefits, especially during pregnancy.



The most common way to obtain more of these two fatty acids is by eating fish. Fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna provide one of the only food sources of DHA and EPA. Some healthcare professionals recommend consuming two to three servings of fish a week.

However, many pregnant women are hesitant to include more fish in their diet during pregnancy because of the risk of marine contaminants like mercury. Large, predatory fish like mackerel and swordfish provide especially high levels of mercury and should be avoided. Even when looking past this risk, others may have a shellfish allergy or follow a plant-based lifestyle.

Fish Oil Supplements

For a more convenient source, many people also turn to fish oil supplements. Fish oil is often found in either its pure oil form or distributed into softgel capsules that you can take. Other similar alternatives to fish oil include cod liver oil, which is higher in vitamin A, and krill oil, which includes more antioxidants.

As with fish, you should be wary of fish oil supplements for possible contamination. These supplements can also be unappealing to many because of the aftertaste and risk of heartburn or indigestion. High levels of vitamin A in the body during pregnancy can also provide risk factors, so you should avoid cod liver oil.

Algae Supplements

For a safe and reliable source of omega-3, you can turn to iwi life, which provides an easy way to obtain omega-3 without fish. 

iwi lifeoffers a whole collection of products dedicated to promoting your and your baby’s health during pregnancy, all through the power of algae. iwi life omega-3 supplements are completely plant-based and free from the risks and unpleasant taste or fishy burps from fish oil. Omega-3 from Nannochloropsis algae is also absorbed at a rate 1.7x times higher than from other sources, meaning that you get a supplement that your body can put to use much faster and more efficiently.

Plus, the algae found in iwi life supplements is produced in ponds of salty water in the middle of the desert, far away from any potential ocean contaminants. With iwi life, you can enjoy valuable nutrition and peace of mind all at the same time.

Support a Healthy Pregnancy With Omega-3

Support a Healthy Pregnancy With Omega-3

Altogether, omega-3 is a crucial nutrient you should not overlook during pregnancy. From supporting your health to maintaining the healthy cognitive and brain development of your child, there are many reasons why omega-3 should be a priority. To learn more about how to include enough omega-3 in your diet and what methods you should take, be sure to consult your healthcare provider.

Whether you want to boost just your omega-3 intake with DHA supplements or you are looking for a complete prenatal vitamin, iwi life can help. An iwi life DHA supplement provides 500mg of plant-based DHA, while our prenatal vitamin provides 225mg of combined EPA and DHA, along with important nutrients like folic acid and iron. Explore our family of products formulated for pregnancy health to see all the ways you can support your little one.


Pregnancy and fish: What's safe to eat? | Mayo Clinic

High liveborn birth weights in the Faroes: a comparison between birth weights in the Faroes and in Denmark | PMC

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy | PMC

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