Pregnancy is a time when expectant mothers are extra cautious about what they consume. With so many supplements and health products on the market, it can be overwhelming to know what’s safe and what’s not.
One supplement that has gained popularity in recent years is krill oil. Derived from tiny shrimp-like crustaceans, krill oil is known for its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and lack of toxins.
But is it safe for pregnant women to take? In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and risks of krill oil during pregnancy and help you make an informed decision about whether or not to add it to your prenatal routine.
Is Krill Oil Safe During Pregnancy?
Krill oil is generally considered safe for pregnant women to take, as it does not contain unsafe levels of mercury or other toxins that can be harmful to developing fetuses. In fact, krill oil is often recommended as a superior source of omega-3 fatty acids compared to traditional fish oil supplements.
Omega-3s are essential for fetal brain and eye development, and can also help protect against heart disease in the long-term. While some prenatal vitamins may already contain DHA supplements, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before adding additional supplements to your routine.
Krill oil is a great alternative for those who don’t like the fishy aftertaste of traditional fish oil supplements. It delivers omega-3s in their most natural form, called phospholipids, which are easily absorbed by the body.
However, it’s important to note that krill oil is an unstudied product in pregnancy and is currently not recommended. While it may be safe for pregnant women to take, there simply isn’t enough research to confirm its safety or effectiveness during pregnancy.
What Is Krill Oil?
Krill oil is derived from small shrimp-like crustaceans called krill, which measure in at only about two inches in length. These tiny creatures represent a critical link in the global food chain and are considered the essential fuel responsible for running the Earth’s entire marine ecosystem. They are found in the waters surrounding Antarctica and are the primary diet of baleen whales, the largest mammals in the ocean.
Krill feed on plankton, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids themselves. Krill oil contains EPA and DHA, the same omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, but usually in smaller amounts. However, krill oil is considered a superior source of omega-3s because it delivers them in their most natural form, called phospholipids. This form of omega-3s is easily absorbed by the body and has superior absorption compared to fish oil.
While some preliminary studies suggest that krill oil may be superior to fish oil in some ways, its effects have not been researched as thoroughly. It is important to note that krill oil is an unstudied product during pregnancy and is currently not recommended. Pregnant women should speak with their healthcare provider before taking any supplements, including krill oil.
The Benefits Of Krill Oil During Pregnancy
Krill oil offers a number of potential benefits for expectant mothers. Unlike traditional fish oil supplements, krill oil does not cause the unpleasant side effect of “fish burps,” making it a more comfortable option for pregnant women to take.
Krill oil is also rich in astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that can help protect cells from damage. This is particularly important during pregnancy, as the developing fetus is vulnerable to environmental toxins and other harmful substances.
In addition, krill oil contains high levels of EPA and DHA, two essential omega-3 fatty acids that are crucial for fetal brain and eye development. These nutrients also play a role in regulating inflammation in the body, supporting cellular repair and internal defense systems, and maintaining overall health.
Research has also shown that krill oil supplementation may increase DHA and EPA levels in breast milk, which can help support a newborn’s neural and visual development during those critical first few months of life.
While more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of krill oil during pregnancy, it is generally considered safe for expectant mothers to take. As always, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your routine.
The Risks Of Krill Oil During Pregnancy
While krill oil is generally considered safe for pregnant women to take, there are some potential risks that should be taken into consideration. One of the primary concerns is the lack of research on the safety and efficacy of krill oil during pregnancy. While some studies have shown promising results in terms of improving arthritis symptoms and reducing inflammation, there is simply not enough data to confirm whether or not it is safe for pregnant women to take.
Additionally, there is some concern about the environmental impact of large-scale krill harvesting. Krill are a critical part of the food chain in the waters surrounding Antarctica, serving as a primary food source for baleen whales, seals, penguins, and other birds. If krill populations were to decline significantly due to overfishing, it could have devastating effects on the entire ecosystem.
Finally, it’s important to note that while krill oil does not contain unsafe levels of mercury or other toxins, it is still possible to consume too much omega-3 fatty acids. This can lead to side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and an increased risk of bleeding. Pregnant women should always consult with their healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to their routine, including krill oil.
Studies On Krill Oil And Pregnancy
There have been some studies on the effects of krill oil supplementation during pregnancy, although the results are not yet conclusive. One study published in Frontiers in Pediatrics found that a 30-day combined supplementation with fish and krill oil in breastfeeding women significantly increased DHA and EPA levels in breast milk. This is important because DHA plays a crucial role in neural and visual development in infants.
Another study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology found that krill oil supplementation during pregnancy increased levels of EPA and DHA in maternal plasma, as well as in the placenta and umbilical cord blood. However, this study was conducted on a small sample size of only 23 women, so more research is needed to confirm these findings.
While these preliminary studies show promising results, it’s important to note that more research is needed before making any definitive conclusions about the safety and efficacy of krill oil during pregnancy. As always, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider before adding any supplements to your routine during pregnancy.
How To Safely Incorporate Krill Oil Into Your Prenatal Routine
If you are interested in incorporating krill oil into your prenatal routine, it’s important to first speak with your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for you and your developing fetus. Once you have the green light, here are some tips for safely incorporating krill oil into your routine:
1. Choose a reputable brand: Look for a high-quality krill oil supplement from a reputable brand. Make sure the product is third-party tested for purity and potency.
2. Follow dosage instructions: Be sure to follow the recommended dosage instructions on the label. Taking too much krill oil can lead to unwanted side effects.
3. Take with food: To help prevent any potential gastrointestinal discomfort, take your krill oil supplement with a meal.
4. Monitor for side effects: While krill oil is generally well-tolerated, some people may experience mild side effects such as upset stomach or diarrhea. If you experience any adverse effects, stop taking the supplement and speak with your healthcare provider.
5. Don’t rely solely on krill oil: While krill oil can be a beneficial source of omega-3s, it’s important to also consume a healthy diet rich in omega-3s from sources such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
Alternative Sources Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Pregnant Women
For pregnant women who are looking for alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids, there are several options available. Algae oil is considered a vegetarian source of omega-3s and can supply the necessary nutrients just as effectively as fish oil. It’s also a great option if you’re concerned about environmental pollutants that may be present in fish.
Another alternative is to consume foods that are rich in omega-3s, such as mackerel, salmon, trout, kippers, anchovies, sardines, pilchards, herring, whitebait, crab, and prawns. Fresh tuna also counts as an oily fish, but canned tuna doesn’t contain the same amount of oils. White fish like cod and haddock contain some omega-3s, but in lower amounts.
While it’s important to consume enough omega-3s during pregnancy, it’s also important to avoid consuming too much fish due to the risk of environmental pollutants like dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Pregnant women should limit their intake of oily fish to no more than two portions per week.
If you’re considering taking a fish oil supplement or an algae oil supplement during pregnancy, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider first. They can recommend a safe dosage and ensure that the supplement you’re taking is suitable for pregnant women. It’s also important to check the amount of DHA and EPA in the supplement as these are the two beneficial long-chain omega-3 fats found in oily fish.