Salmon Has Benefits For Pregnant Women

Two salmon servings a week boosts antioxidant levels for expecting moms and their babies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you're planning for the arrival of a baby, consider planning to include some salmon in your meals each week. The extra omega-3 fatty acids will benefit both of you.

A new set of research studies reveals that several components in the salmon and omega-3s can boost the antioxidant levels of the mother and the baby she carries without negatively affecting other bodily processes.

"Consider eating farm raised organic salmon while pregnant."

One study was led by Cruz García-Rodríguez at the University of Granada, and another was led by Elizabeth Miles of the Institute of Human Nutrition and Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Division at the University of Southampton School of Medicine in the U.K.

As part of an EU program called The Salmon in Pregnancy Study, 123 women who typically did not eat much oily fish were randomly put into two groups.

One group ate their regular diet while the other group's diet included two servings of salmon each week from their 20th week of pregnancy through to the baby's birth.

Both groups recorded information about their diets during their second and third trimesters filling out 20-week and 34-week questionnaires.

Researchers took blood and urine samples from all the women at 20 weeks, 38 weeks and during labor. They also took cord blood samples following delivery.

The fish-farmed salmon also had a controlled diet that included vegetable oils, algae and zooplankton and ensured the salmon were full of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium - without containing much of the contamination that often gets into salmon's food supply.

Women in the salmon group who typically did not eat much fish showed higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, as did their babies.

Researchers therefore concluded that two weekly salmon servings are sufficient for women and babies to achieve the minimum recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids consumption.

They also found that eating salmon did not affect the level of "oxidative stress" on women's DNA. Oxidative stress occurs when a body cannot keep up with removing the toxins from oxygen products created by the body. It can occur during several diseases and during pregnancy.

Antioxidants can help minimize oxidative stress, and both selenium, a mineral important for the body, and vitamin A have antioxidant properties.

Because the researchers saw higher levels of vitamin A and selenium in the women's blood, and higher selenium in the newborns, they concluded that this extra antioxidant protection likely reduced the oxidative stress the women may have otherwise experienced.

Meanwhile, the women did not appear to have any negative effects on several bodily processes the researchers looked at, including their metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates and their concentrations of certain proteins and energy-adjusting hormones.

All pregnant women should have regular conversations with their doctor during pre-natal care about their diet and any dietary changes they're planning on making.

The studies appeared in the December 2011 issues of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling.

The researchers received support in terms of carrying out the study from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit and the Princess Anne Hospital.

One author is employed by a company that produces feed for farmed salmon, and no other authors declared any financial conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 21, 2012
Last Updated:
March 22, 2012