Following a good diet during pregnancy is essential for the healthy development of a fetus in the womb. Ample amounts of amino acids in the blood, for reasons that we will explore here, are necessary to support this development. Pregnant women, as the data shows, are prone to experiencing serious amino acid losses during their pregnancies. Therefore, many women, especially those at high risk, should consider supplementing with amino acids for the duration of their pregnancy.
Why Amino Acids During Pregnancy Are Particularly Important
Amino acid levels drop during pregnancy due to the high metabolic burden of pregnancy. Amino acids are utilized in several physiological activities that are ramped up when a woman becomes pregnant. Some amino acids, such as phenylamine, are critical for the successful development of the fetus; in women who have deficiencies of this critical amino acid throughout their pregnancies, the risk of congenital malformations (birth defects) increases markedly. The human placenta—the supportive structure that provides nutrients to a growing fetus—has a notably high metabolic demand for amino acids. This further underscores the need for proper amino acid intake during pregnancy.
Diet is the ideal way for women to increase their levels of amino acids during pregnancy. Amino acid supplements, in addition, are affordable and offer enormous relative value to a pregnant woman to support her intake of amino acids through diet.
Natural, Dietary Sources of Amino Acids
Everyone should include more amino acids in his or her diet. Not all amino acids are the same nor add the same value in terms of delivering on your nutritional needs. In addition to the raw amount of amino acids that you take in through diet, the proper kinds and ratios of amino acid types are important.
Omega-3 Versus Omega-6 Fatty Acids
As a society, we over-consume foods that contain excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids (found in the processed vegetable oils used in popular products) compared to our omega-3 intake.
Medical professionals have looked into the importance of maintaining a good omega-3 to omega-6 balance for overall health with stunning results. Specifically, they found that we evolved as a species eating omega-3 and omega-6 in a roughly one-to-one ratio, meaning the amounts of the two types of fatty acids were about the same. Now, though, due to shifting dietary habits, the typical Western diet includes ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 as high as one to sixteen.
This type of nutritional imbalance has disastrous effects on the health of adults and even more harmful outcomes for developing fetuses.
Here are the top foods to include more of in your diet to maximize your omega-3 intake:
To reduce your intake of omega-6, try focusing on a whole foods-based diet such as the Whole-30 or paleo eating plans.
The Importance of Amino Acids During Pregnancy for Vegans
Amino acid supplementation is particularly recommended for vegans, as much of the amino acid intake typically sourced through diet comes from animal-based foods.
Therefore, vegan women should monitor their levels of amino acids during pregnancy carefully though testing to make sure they are getting enough and, when necessary, support their dietary intake with amino acid supplements.
The importance of dietary intake of amino acids for a healthy pregnancy and ultimate delivery cannot be overstated. Pregnant women should always take the necessary steps to make sure they are getting plenty of amino acids, especially those of the omega-3 variety.