The Challenge of Omega-3 Supplementation During Pregnancy


Krill Oil Has No Aftertaste and Better Bioavailability—Win-Win Factors for Mom and Baby


Omega-3 fatty acid DHA is vital for the healthy in utero development of the brain, heart, immune system, eyes, and central nervous system. But the subject of Omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy has been characterized by questions and unpredictable research.*


The reason for those unpredictable results might stem from the fact that most studies have utilized fish oil as their Omega-3 source. Fish oil, because of its triglyceride or ethyl ester form, notoriously struggles with uptake. The hoped-for effects might not occur if the supplement does not absorb well.


It might be time to look at the benefits of easy-to-digest krill oil during and after pregnancy as the new Omega-3 study subject for expecting mothers.


“While there haven’t been specific studies on taking krill oil during pregnancy, there is plenty of evidence that Omega-3 supplementation in general is a good idea for expecting moms,” said Dr. Tina Sampalis, Medical Science Liaison for Neptune. “It’s certainly safe overall however, since it has not been tested during pregnancy, physician’s advice is very important prior to taking krill oil or any supplement. With krill, you have an excelllent source of omega-3 without the contaminants found in fish.”*


NKO: Pure, More Bioavailable, and Unique Benefits For Expecting Moms

Physicians typically recommend that pregnant women limit their fatty fish intake to two servings per week because of the concern about contaminants. That’s an unfortunate trade-off since the fetus needs omega-3 fatty acids to develop well. Krill oil remedies this issue and several others:

  • No Contaminants: Krill oil is inherently a purer Omega-3 source. Krill are at the bottom of the food chain. They consume mainly algae and, consequently, do not accumulate the heavy metals and other contaminants often found in predatory fish higher up the food chain.
  • More Bioavailable: Along with being a purer option, clinical studies also show that NKO® is up to 2.5 times more bioavailable than fish oil. An added benefit is that it has no aftertaste either. That’s good news during pregnancy, when the body tends to be more sensitive to strong tastes and smells.*
  • Good for Baby: There is solid research that Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, are vital during fetal development. There is also evidence that successful DHA supplementation supports healthy full-term pregnancy and healthy birth weight. Krill oil is a superb source of bioavailable DHA.*
  • Good for Mom: After the baby is born, continued omega-3 supplementation may provide further benefits for the mother. Krill oil has been clinically proven to help maintain balanced mood and healthy concentration.*


It’s important to note that effects are most prominent when taking at least 1 gram of supplemented Omega-3 per day. For pregnant and lactating mothers, 1300-1400mg is ideal. Less than that amount, the results can be negligible. However, since the omega-3 in NKO is absorbed easier, chances are that research will show us that less omega-3 in NKO may be equally or even more efficient than fish oil.


“Krill oil is still growing its research database. I hope to see more research in the future on its value during pregnancy,” said Dr. Sampalis. “Meanwhile, krill oil is pure, easy-to-digest and safe. Its Omega-3 is more bioavailable than fish oil. It makes sense that physicians agree to recommend it for pregnant and lactating mothers.”



About the author


TinaSampalisDr. Tina Sampalis, M.D., Ph.D., joined Neptune Technologies and Bioressources, Inc. in 2000. Dr. Sampalis is an oncology surgeon trained in physiology at McGill University, medicine at the University of Patras (Greece), dermatology at Göttingen University (Germany) and Marselisborg University (Denmark), pediatric, general and oncology surgery at the University of Athens (Greece), graduate training (Ph.D.) in Surgical Research at the University of Athens and a second Ph.D. in Epidemiology and Experimental Surgery at McGill University. She has received several international scholarships and awards for her work on the clinical implementation of retinols for skin and breast cancer, including the Helen Hutchison Award for geriatric medicine. Her work on scintimammography resulted in her appointment at the International Educational Speakers Bureau, the Canadian and U.S. Faculty of Medical Speakers for Breast Imaging. As an international scholar she leads the development and implementation of innovative micro-invasive and stereotactic robotic surgical techniques for breast cancer, for which a U.S. and Canadian patent application has been filed. She is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Medicine. Dr. Sampalis has published papers in multiple peer reviewed publications.




Crawford MA. The role of essential fatty acids in neural development: implications for perinatal nutrition. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.1993;57(suppl):703S- 710S.

Kaviani M, et. al. “The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Maternal Depression during Pregnancy: A Double Blind Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial.” International Journal of Community Based Nursing and Midwifery. 2014 Jul;2(3):142-7.

Kidd P. “Omega-3 DHA and EPA for Cognition, Behavior, and Mood: Clinical Findings and Structural- Functional Synergies with CellMembrane Phospholipids.”Alternative Medicine Review. Volume 12, Number 3; 2007.

McCann JC, Ames BN. “Is docosahexaenoic acid, an n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, required for development of normal brain function? An overview of evidence from cognitive and behavioral tests in humans and animals.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005; 82:281-295.

Neuringer M, Connor WE, Lin DS, et al. “Biochemical and functional effects of prenatal and postnatal omega 3 fatty acid deficiency on retina and brain in rhesus monkeys.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1986;83:4021-4025.

Reisbick S, Neuringer M, Gohl E, et al. “Visual attention in infant monkeys: effects of dietary fatty acids and age.” Developmetal Psychology. 1997;33:387-395.

Pietrantoni E, et al. “Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation during pregnancy: a potential tool to prevent membrane rupture and preterm labor.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2014 May 7;15(5):8024-36. doi: 10.3390/ijms15058024.

SanGiovanni JP, Parra-Cabrera S, Colditz GA, et
al. “Meta-analysis of dietary essential fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids as they relate to visual resolution acuity in healthy preterm infants.” Pediatrics. 2000;105:1292-1298.