Is It Alright To Take Fish Oil Supplements While Pregnant?

The World Health Organization has long maintained that, in order to achieve optimum health, fish should be on the menu at least twice a week. That's because fish — like mackerel, herring, anchovies, and tuna – contain in their tissues something that our bodies need, but can't make on their own (per Mayo Clinic). Fish fat, commonly referred to as fish oil, is rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — two omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for muscle activity, cell growth, and disease prevention.

For many people, eating fish twice a week is neither possible nor desirable. And that's where fish oil supplements come in. Nearly 19 million adults in the U.S. currently use fish oil supplements to meet their weekly requirement (per National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.) However, a lot of things change during pregnancy, and many of the foods, activities — and even supplements — you once enjoyed may be off-limits for a little while. Women who are pregnant and nursing may be wondering if fish oil supplements are safe to continue taking during pregnancy. Here's what we found out.

Benefits of fish oil during pregnancy and nursing

Not only is fish oil safe to take during pregnancy, it's recommended! That's because fish oil can help with your baby's neurological development, playing a critical role in the formation of their brain and eyes (per the National Library of Medicine). What's more, taking fish oil can have a lot of benefits for pregnant women as well, potentially reducing the risks of pregnancy complications like preterm labor, preeclampsia, and postpartum depression (per Fleur Women's Health).

The benefits of fish oil for mom and baby don't stop after the baby is born. In fact, when a nursing mother is taking fish oil, their baby has access to its benefits through her breast milk. Supplying a new and growing baby with breast milk containing fish oil can be beneficial for their brain, vision, and motor function development.

It's recommended that pregnant women and women who are nursing take between 500-1000 mg of fish oil on a daily basis, per Fleur Women's Health. They make note that 300 mg of that should be of the DHA variety. While most fish oil capsules are 1000 mg, most actually contain somewhere between 200-500 mg of fish oil, making them generally safe for most pregnant and nursing women.