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Pregnancy nutrition

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How LCPs support development

Oily fish, like mackerel, are a great source of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs). LCPs are the building blocks of the fats that help make up our tissues and contribute to the normal functioning of our bodies. They’re important for your own health and also support your baby's growth, particularly with regard to their visual development.

What are LCPs?

Omega 3 and 6 are two types of fatty acid (LCPs) that play an important role in your baby’s cognitive development and contribute to the health of their heart. Your body is unable to make these fats, which makes them a crucial part of a well-balanced diet.

Omega 3 supports your baby’s heart, brain and vision

You may already know that Omega 3 can keep your heart healthy. It also plays an important role in your baby’s rapidly-developing brain, as well as their nervous system and vision. An adequate and appropriately balanced supply of Omega 3 is required for normal brain function (thinking, learning and understanding), both during early development and throughout life.

What next?

Oily fish are the richest source of Omega 3, so aim to eat two portions per week. You could try poached salmon, sardines or grilled mackerel. For non-fish sources you could try a Waldorf salad with walnuts, or an Omega 3-enriched egg salad with a handful of nuts.

Weekly expert nutritional advice

If you found this page useful, our weekly emails can give you even more advice. We’re here to help you understand the role nutrition plays in your baby’s development, and our early life nutritional expertise will help you make the right choices for your baby’s future.

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View references

Hide references

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1. British Nutrition Foundation, N-3 fatty acids and health [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: June 2014]

2. NHS Choices, Fish and shellfish [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: June 2014]

3. Jensen, Craig L. "Effects of n− 3 fatty acids during pregnancy and lactation." The American journal of clinical nutrition 83.6 (2006): S1452-1457S.

4. From brief – not sure of source

5. Dictionary, Cognitive [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: June 2014]

6. McCance and Widdowson. Composition of foods integrated dataset [Online] 2002 [Accessed June 2014]

Last reviewed: 12th August 2014

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