Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial during all stages of life, but especially during pregnancy. We were issued a friendly reminder yesterday by Live Science staff writer, Bahar Gholipour, when she spotlighted new research just published in PLOS ONE about how eating fish during pregnancy reduces anxiety. She wrote about the study, “women who never or rarely ate dark or oily fish (such as tuna and salmon) were 53 percent more likely to have high levels of anxiety in their third trimester of pregnancy, compared with women who ate fish at least once a week.”
That same study found that the strictest vegetarian women were 25 percent more likely to have anxiety during pregnancy. Of course, given all of the new research indicating how crucial omega-3 fatty acid is for mood regulation, it seems likely that this anxiety during pregnancy is primarily due to a lack of omega-3s and not an absence of sea animal products. Healthy vegetarian sources of omega-3’s for pregnant women include:
- Flax Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Brussels Sprouts
Still more research found in PLOS ONE indicated that women with lower intake of omega-3 fatty acids may be more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. More than just a difficult time for women, deficiency in a mother can affect their infant’s emotional, social, and cognitive development as well. This indicated that if possible, fish may be the best source for omega-3 fatty acids given that they also have vitamin D, B12, iodine, selenium and high-quality proteins. Vegetarians could of course find alternate sources for those additional crucial nutrients though.
More sources on the significant link between crucial fatty acids/oily fish and mental health can be read in:
- Life Science (2003)
- Biological Psychiatry (1998)
- Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica (2006)
- Journal of Affective Disorders (2007)
- Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (2008)
- Science Daily (2011)
These are just a few of the plethora of sources on the importance of getting enough omega-3 fatty acids. This newest article is just a reminder to all of us of how important diet is on our mental well being.