What is Omega 3?


Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are the two major classes of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and each consist of a few different fatty acids. Some fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)(omega 3) and linoleic acid (LA)(omega 6) are considered essential fatty acids, meaning they must be obtained from the diet.1 


Having adequate levels of Omega 3 during pregnancy and breastfeeding has many benefits. For Mama it may reduce perinatal mortality, premature birth, and other complications of pregnancy.2,3 And for Baba, omega-3 fatty acids act as structural membrane lipids, helping with brain and visual development.4


Omega 3 and Brain Development

During pregnancy, mothers have a high demand for long chain omega 3 fatty acids because of the transfer of eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) to baba for brain growth and subsequent cognitive development.1 Several organizations recommend that pregnant and lactating women should consume omega 3 fatty acids to support fetal brain development.5,6 Genetic and lifestyle factors can influence maternal DHA stores such as nutrition and pre-pregnancy health conditions, which may affect DHA utilization. Fetal DHA requirements rise during pregnancy, peaking towards the end of the third trimester (after week 32). This is a time of great significant accretion of DHA in fetal brain tissue, as DHA is a major structural lipid in both the brain and retina.4

The amount of omega 3 fatty acids, especially DHA, a mother can transfer to her baby via  breastfeeding is dependent on her diet.7 During pregnancy, a mother’s requirement for omega 3 fatty acid is high and may lead to depletion if consumption is inadequate. Postpartum consumption is important for mamas health and her ability to transfer omega 3 fatty acid to her baba.1

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Improve Immunity

Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids play a role in our immune systems as they are required for the regulation of inflammation and cell proliferation.8 DHA specifically has a range of anti-inflammatory effects which helps to reduce the risk of heart diseases for example. It also reduces oxidative stress.9


Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Postnatal Depression

The selective transportation of long chain fatty acids across the placenta to the fetus may cause  maternal depletion of these fatty acids when dietary intake is low.1 Low DHA levels have been associated with increased incidence of postpartum depression,6 even though clinical trials on the benefits of supplementation have been inconclusive because there is great heterogeneity amongst the studies e.g. differences amongst the duration and level of supplementation.1  

 

Mama balls contain 300 mg of DHA from organic algae powder per 60 g serving, which is 100% of the amount recommended by the American Pregnancy Association.6  DHA from marine sources such algae are considered to be the most biologically active forms of omega-3 fatty acid.9  Meaning Mama Balls are giving you the best possible source of Omega 3, during the most important time for Mama and Baby’s health. 


 

 

References: 

  1. Dos Sandos Vaz, J.D; Farias, D.R.; Adegboye, A.R.A; Nardi, A.E.; Kac, G. 2017. Omega-3 supplementation from pregnancy to postpartum to prevent depressive symptoms: a randomized placebo controlled trial. BMC. Pregnancy and Childbirth. 17:180.
  2. Von Schacky, C.  2020. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Pregnancy—The Case for a Target Omega-3 Index. Nutrients. 12:898. doi:10.3390/nu12040898.
  3. Middleton, P.; Gomersall. J.C.; Gould, J.F.; Shepherd,E.; Olsen, S.F.; Makrides, M. 2018. Omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD003402. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003402.pub3.
  4. Mun, J.G.; Legette, L.L; Ikonte, C.J.; Mitmesser, S.H. 2019. Choline and DHA in Maternal and Infant Nutrition: Synergistic Implications in Brain and Eye Health. Nutrients, 11, 1125; doi:10.3390/nu11051125.
  5. Koletzko, B.; Cetin, I.;  Brenna, J.T. 2007. Dietary fat intakes for pregnant and lactating women. British Journal of Nutrition. doi: 10.1017/S0007114507764747.
  6. American Pregnancy Association. 2021. [Online]. Available from: Omega-3 Fish Oil and Pregnancy - American Pregnancy Association [Accessed 26 March 2022].
  7. Schaefer, E.; Demmelmair, H.; Horak, J.; Holdt, L.; Grote, V.; Maar, K.; Neuhofer, C.; Teupser, D; Thiel, N.; Goeckeler-Leopold, E.; Maggini, S.; Koletzko, B. 2020. Multiple micronutrients, lutein, and docosahexaenoic acid supplementation during lactation: A randomized controlled trial. Nutrients, 12: 3849; doi:10.3390/nu12123849.
  8. Coletta, J.M.; Bell, S.J.; Roman, A.S. 2010. Omega-3 fatty acids and pregnancy. Reviews in Obstetrics and gynecology. 3(4): 163 – 171.
  9. Djuricic, I. and Calder. P.C. 2021. Beneficial outcomes of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on human health: An update for 2021. Nutrients. 13: 2421. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13072421.
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