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How do omega-3 fatty acids help protect a pregant woman?
Pregnancy can be both an exciting as well as stressful time for both mother and father. But the mother experiences tremendous extra demands on her body. Her blood pressure may increase. Blood lipids, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels may shoot up several times above normal. She may retain water and become edemic. Unusually large amounts of proteins may escape from her body and be excreted in her urine. All these problems may combine to result in a condition called pre-eclampsia. Even more severe is eclampsia, where convulsions and coma occurs. Obviously, these conditions are dangerous for both mother and fetus. Thus, efforts to prevent the complications encourage a safe pregnancy.
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oil supplements are known for being very effective at reducing blood pressure and triglyceride levels. At the University Hospital of Aarhus, Denmark, Dr. S. Olsen led a team to examine how fish oil supplements affected pregnant women. They discovered that supplementing two to three grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day effectively lowered the blood pressure of pregnant women, prolonged gestation, increased the weight of the newborn, and reduced the incidence of premature birth. However, no benefit was found if women began to taking the fatty acids after the 30th week. This suggests early supplementation may be more effective. Based on such research, the Canadian Hypertenstion Society encourages pregnant women at high risk for developing high blood pressure take fish oil supplements.
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