week Dr. Sears answers questions he gets pertaining to diet and
pregnancy. Learn about the role diet plays in fertility, conception and
the health of mom and baby.
Q: Dr. Sears we know that diet
is important prior to conceiving and during gestation. What nutrients
do you recommend women get enough of if they are thinking about
conceiving or once they find out their pregnant?
A: Infertility is a growing problem and I believe that inflammation
is a major contributor to that situation. That’s why I recommend both
females and males contemplating conception consume an
Such a diet is not to lose excess body fat, but to reduce inflammation
and establish the hormonal balance that makes it more likely for
successful procreation. Such an anti-inflammatory diet is adequate in
low-fat protein, moderate in carbohydrates (but rich in fruits and vegetables), and low in fat (especially
saturated fat). The most important supplement for both males and
females to improve the success of conception would be
omega-3 fatty acids
because of their hormonal benefits in reducing inflammation in females
and improving sperm quality in males. Once the mother is pregnant, her
nutrition becomes paramount for the baby. This means following the same
anti-inflammatory diet during pregnancy and especially focusing on
fiber rich foods (especially fermentable fiber) for her gut health.
Q: Most physicians recommend taking an omega-3 supplement
when pregnant. Generally this is about 250-500mg or so of EPA and DHA.
Do you think this is enough?
A: I think that 250-500mg is too low a dose to reap all the benefits
that come from omega-3 supplementation. For general wellness I recommend
individuals consume about 3000 mg of EPA and DHA per day and this is
the same amount I’d recommend for pregnant women too.
Q: Do you need more omega-3s as pregnancy goes on or can you continue with the same dose?
A: Throughout pregnancy I recommend women stay with the same dose of
3000 mg of EPA and DHA per day. This is because in the last trimester
of pregnancy the fetus is making about 250,000 new brain cells per
minute and that requires a lot of
omega-3 fatty acids.
Q: Once you deliver the baby can you stop taking omega-3s?
A: I wouldn’t recommend it. Omega3 fatty acids only last about 24-48
hours in the blood so it requires you take a consistent dosage
regularly. During the pregnancy, the fetus has been depleting the
omega-3s from the mother’s reserve to develop its brain. What this
means is that after the birth of the child, the mother can develop a
sense of depression without continued omega-3 supplementation to replace
her internal stores. I recommend staying either with the same dose or
and you may even need to bump up the dosage after delivery especially if
mother is breast feeding to ensure adequate levels of EPA and DHA
in her breast milk. I always recommend testing the levels of omega-3s
in your blood to determine what dose is right for you by keeping your
AA/EPA ratio between 1.5 and 3.
Q: What are the benefits of omega-3s for both mom and child?
A: EPA and DHA the omega-3s found in fish oil are known for their
role in supporting heart health, a healthy immune system and
inflammatory response as well as supporting eye and brain development.
They’ve also been shown to help minimize the risk of allergies in
children. They work by increasing the production of the hormones known
as resolvins that are key to maintaining low levels of inflammation in
both the mother and the child.
Q: What do you look for in an omega-3 supplement?
A: The vast majority of fish oil products use the same raw material
(sardines and anchovies), but what separates one from the other is their
purification to remove toxins that are found in all fish oil products.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), are the most difficult toxins to
remove from fish oil. That is why my standards for PCBs (less than 2
parts per billion) are 25 times more stringent than pharmaceutical
45 times more rigid than those established for the dietary supplement industry.
You also want to look at the total amount of EPA and DHA since that is
where the health benefits of omega-3s come from. OmegaRx 2 supplies
750mg of EPA and DHA per gram (1 capsule). This is the highest purity
fish oil with the highest amounts of EPA and DHA currently offered in
the marketplace without a prescription. Each serving of
(4 capsules or 1 tsp) supplies 3000mg of EPA and DHA. Purity and
potency are most important when looking to take an omega-3 supplement.
But you also have to look at the price. Based on the cost per gram of
EPA and DHA, OmegaRx 2 is probably the least expensive source of EPA and
DHA (based on cost per gram) with the highest purity and the greatest
Q: When you have morning sickness the last thing you can
stomach is fruits, vegetables or even protein. It seems like crackers
and ginger ale becoming the diet of choice. What do you recommend for
women with morning sickness?
A: Pregnancy isn’t easy and morning sickness can be unbearable for
some women. Morning sickness tends to decline as the pregnancy
continues. My recommendation is try and keep up with your omega-3s and
prenatal vitamin to cover your bases and the meals where you are feeling
good try and get in as many
vegetables and fruits you can even if it’s by adding it to a shake, with some protein powder, and some monounsaturated fat.
Q: Can fish oil help with some of the aches and pains of pregnancy?
A: Yes. Carrying around extra weight can take its toll especially in
pregnancy with the pressure on the joints and stretching. The
anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to
help with joint support and to help minimize some of the inflammation
that results in pain.
Q: Women who might not struggle with high blood sugar
or high blood pressure prior to becoming pregnant might start to have
these numbers creep up during pregnancy or even lead to gestational
diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Can diet and supplementation help?
A: The Zone diet is really ideal for individuals who are looking to
support healthy blood pressure and healthy blood sugar. The Zone diet
is not a weight loss diet, but an anti-inflammatory diet. I like to
think of it as an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.Inflammation underlies
many of these conditions associated with pregnancy. Omega-3s have been
clinically shown to help support healthy blood pressure.
give fruits and vegetables their color, especially polyphenols found in
berries known as delphinidins, may further help with blood sugar
control. That’s why I consider all three dietary components (diet,
omega-3 fatty acids, and polyphenols) to be important during pregnancy
as well as afterwards whether the mother is nursing or not.
Q: If you can’t swallow fish oil capsules, what would you recommend?
A: Liquid fish oil
is a great alternative for individuals who can’t swallow capsules or
who require higher amounts of omega-3s. You can add the liquid omega-3
fatty acids to some high-quality olive oil (rich in polyphenols) and
take it orally. Better yet, you can make an emulsion by adding some dry
lecithin to about 3-4 ounces of water and the liquid omega-3 and then
blend them with a high-speed hand blender. If you can swallow smaller
capsules, but not the standard size
microcapsules might be an option too.
Learn more about Pregnancy and Diet