Is it safe to take an omega-3 supplement when I'm trying to conceive?
Yes. In fact, if you're not eating fatty fish like salmon or sardines once or twice a week, taking a daily omega-3 supplement might be a good idea.
Certain types of fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids (specifically DHA and EPA), which experts believe are important for a baby's brain and eye development. Cold-water fish – also referred to as fatty fish – contain the highest amounts of omega-3s.
Your body will store omega-3s for several weeks, so getting enough regularly will ensure that you have adequate levels when you become pregnant.
In general, it's better if you can get your nutrients from food – that way you'll benefit from other nutrients in the food at the same time. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that pregnant women eat 8 to 12 ounces per week of a variety of seafood. This amount provides about 250 mg of omega 3-s.
If you want to try supplements instead, you should know that a few studies have shown small benefits in child cognitive development when pregnant or nursing women take omega-3 supplements, but most have shown no significant benefits from these products.
You can find omega-3 supplements in liquid, soft chews, and soft gel form, and some are flavored to mask the fishiness. Omega-3 supplements are mercury-free. Many contain fish oil, but mercury is not stored in fatty tissue, so it's not in the oil.
Other omega-3 supplements are derived from algae rather than fish. These supplements have no mercury and no fishy aftertaste, and they're even appropriate for vegetarians.
You'll want to try to make sure that any omega-3 supplement brand you choose filters the oil to eliminate toxins, such as PCBs. See our article on buying supplements for guidance.
Note: Some women turn to cod liver oil as a source of omega-3s. If you go this route, check the label and make sure you're not exceeding the recommended dosage of vitamin A for pregnant women. (Vitamin A can be toxic at high doses.)