Why is DHA so important to your pregnancy and your baby?

Give your baby a head start in life with good nutrition during pregnancy. Remember DHA helps you fuel your baby’s brain development during pregnancy or during this stage.

Did you know that your fetus’s brain begins to develop soon after conception? And you can help to nurture his or her brain growth by consuming a vital nutrient called DHA.

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid, which may sound very scientific, but it’s simply a type of omega-3 fatty acid. It is an excellent aid in the development of your baby’s brain and eyesi.

Consuming DHA is important during your pregnancy as it helps develop your baby’s brain, which becomes a control center of skills including IQ and EQ. A well-developed brain will help your baby reach important developmental milestones in the future, including intellectual, motor, emotional, and communication skills. As a building block of your baby’s brain, DHA accumulates most rapidly in his/her brain during the last trimester of your pregnancy foods high in DHA and DHA-enriched food products.

How much DHA do you and your baby need?

The World Health Organization recommends at least 200 milligrams of DHA each day during your pregnancy to support your health as well as your baby’s development.iii For example, 100g of salmon on average contains a whopping 1 g of DHA.

Where can you and your baby get DHA?

  • Fatty fish - such as salmon and sardines, which are easy to prepare as a tasty meal Eat two servings of DHA-rich fatty fish each weekiv to help ensure that you and your baby are getting enough of this brain-building nutrient. However, you should be cautious about choosing fish–choose fish that are low in mercury.v

  • DHA-fortified products - usually in eggs and milk

  • DHA supplements (fish or algal oil)

 

References:


i Coletta JM, Bell SJ, Roman AS (2010) Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy, Rev Obstet Gynecol 2010 Fall; 3(4): 163-171

ii Carlson, Susan E., (2009). Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation in pregnancy and lactation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(2): 678S–684S.

iii Imhoff-Kunsch, B. (2011, August). Marine oil supplementation in pregnancy and maternal and neonatal health outcomes. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.who.int/elena/titles/commentary/fish_oil_pregnancy/en/

iv Greenberg, J. A., Bell, S. J., & Ausdal, W. V. (2008). Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621042/

v Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know. Retrieved 2 June 2017 from, https://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/metals/ucm393070.htm