If you’re pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, you may have heard of DHA. But what is DHA and how much is recommended to take during pregnancy?
DHA is an acronym for docosahexaenoic acid (no wonder it’s abbreviated). It is one of two Omega-3 fatty acids your body needs to function and your baby needs to grow and develop during pregnancy.
Why is DHA Important, Especially During Pregnancy?
DHA is found in every cell in our bodies and is essential for a healthy heart and nervous system, brain and cognitive functioning, skin, hair, and eye health, joint mobility and proper immune system response.
For an in-utero baby, Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA are crucial for proper eye, brain, heart, and nervous system development, as well as supporting a healthy birthweight and longer gestational period. DHA is also linked to supporting mood and preventing post-partum depression, as well as increased focus and attention in children.
During pregnancy or nursing, your baby gets the DHA it needs from the mother’s body. And most people do not get enough DHA in their regular diets, since it comes primarily from fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, and herring. Tuna also is high in DHA, but pregnant women are typically advised to limit or avoid eating tuna and certain other fish because of potentially high mercury levels.
With the critical need for DHA to support pregnant moms and their babies, combined with the difficulty getting adequate DHA from the foods you eat, along with the increased levels of DHA needed during pregnancy to support both mother and child, you can see why doctors recommend DHA supplements during pregnancy (and nursing, if you choose to do so).
When to Start Taking DHA Supplements During Pregnancy
If you are trying to conceive (TTC), doctors recommend that you start taking pre-natal vitamins and supplements containing DHA and folic acid before you get pregnant. If your pregnancy was unplanned, start taking your supplements as soon as you know you are pregnant. While DHA accumulates the most in your baby during the last trimester, it is an important nutrient and building block for cell development from the start. FIRST RESPONSE™ Early Result Pregnancy Test can tell you whether you’re pregnant six days sooner than most at-home tests and before you’ve even missed a period.
How Much DHA is Recommended During Pregnancy?
The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women take a daily supplement that provides a minimum of 300 mg of DHA, while the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends eating at least two servings of cooked fish or shellfish containing Omega-3 fatty acids (about 8–12 ounces) per week before getting pregnant, while pregnant, and during breastfeeding.
If fish dinners aren’t regularly on your menu or you have other concerns, there are plenty of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements available that contain DHA. Many come in fish-oil pills that you swallow and that some people find have a fishy aftertaste.
To help supplement your diet, one serving of First Response™ Reproductive Health Multivitamin Gummies and First Response PreNatal and PostNatal Multivitamin Gummies provides 65 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids and 50 mg of DHA. Best of all, these supplements come in an easy-to-take and great-tasting gummy form, which means you’ll want to eat them, and you’ll get the DHA you need for your – and your baby’s health.
Make sure you check with your doctor before starting any supplement regimen. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask your doctor which types of fish and shellfish are safer for you to eat during pregnancy.