In perinatal nutrition, the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) of the omega-3 and omega-6 groups are in the limelight owing to their role in neurodevelopment (fetal and newborn) and in inflammation.
Why are Omega 3 & Omega 6 considered essential?
Amongst the 20 odd edible fatty acids, only omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are not synthesized by the body, hence the term “essential”.
It is even more important during pregnancy as the only way your baby receives omega 3 and omega 6 is via your placenta.
What are the benefits of these PUFA’s?
It is important to know that the PUFAs omega-3 and omega-6 groups are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs) and helps in maintaining both your health and your baby’s overall development (mainly neural and heart) throughout pregnancy.
Benefits of Omega 3 and Omega 6 to the baby are:
- Aids in the nervous system along with cognitive development ( including verbal, motor and social skills)
- Proper visual development
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Normal birth weight
- Reduced chance of preterm delivery
- Reduces the chance of getting eczema later in life
- Builds strong bones
Benefits of Omega 3 and Omega 6 to the mommy are:
- Helps in reducing inflammation
- Decreases the risk of heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduce cholesterol
- Improves insulin resistance
- Plays a role in blood clotting
- Helps in proper brain functioning
How much of Omega 3 and Omega 6 should you have?
University of Maryland Medical Center suggests the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat lies between the range of 2:1 and 4:1 is optimum.
In most people (pregnant women included) there is a disproportionate ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat (more of omega 6’s). As per few studies, this altered ratio promotes inflammation and also may cause a risk of your child having obesity later on in life.