Two-Thirds of Pregnant Women Consume Little or No Omega-3 According to Recent Study

Omega-3 fatty acids are important nutrients from birth through old age, but consuming adequate amounts of omega-3s, DHA in particular, is especially important during pregnancy.

Research has shown that consuming at least 200 mg of DHA per week (1-2 servings of seafood totaling 8-12 ounces) is associated with fetal brain and eye development during and after pregnancy, and a reduced risk of preterm birth.*

Unfortunately, new research shows that two-thirds of pregnant women aren’t consuming enough DHA.

The study, “Demographic and health characteristics associated with fish and n-3 fatty acid supplement intake during pregnancy: results from pregnancy cohorts in the ECHO programme,” published in Public Health Nutrition in February 2024, summarizes surveys of 10,800 American women who were pregnant between 1999 and 2020.

The study found that nearly 25% of the women surveyed consumed no fish whatsoever during pregnancy, and another 40% consumed less than 1 serving per week. Both groups, totaling 65%, consumed less than the 1-2 servings per week necessary to achieve the recommended 200 mg per week of DHA.

While supplements offer an alternative way of delivering omega-3 nutrition, the study found that the use of omega-3 supplements was rare. Only 16% of those surveyed took omega-3 supplements. Supplements were most often taken by women who consumed the most fish, while those who consumed less fish and had higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with smoking or high BMI were less likely to take supplements.

Alternative sources of omega-3 nutrition need to be made available to pregnant women.

There is a wealth of information that women can refer to for guidance on maintaining proper nutrition during pregnancy. The fact that 25% of women aren’t consuming any fish during pregnancy, and another 40% aren’t consuming enough fish indicates that information about omega-3 nutrition is getting lost in the noise.

In addition, the study’s authors note that “studies suggest that fish and [omega-3] intake during pregnancy has been declining over past decades, likely in response to federal advisories about mercury in fish since 2001.” The twin threats of undereducation and fears of mercury exposure make it clear that women need access to alternative, non-fish-based sources of omega-3 nutrition, such as Nutriterra DHA Omega-3 Canola oil.

Nutriterra is the world’s first plant-based source of complete omega-3 nutrition, including DHA, EPA, and ALA, with none of the potential mercury contamination of consuming fish, or the flavors associated with fish oil and other traditional omega-3 supplements. For pregnant women who need to increase their omega-3 intake, but who worry about mercury toxicity or simply don’t enjoy the taste of fish, Nutriterra is an ideal solution.