Why Is DHA Omega-3 An Important Nutrient During Pregnancy?


DHA Omega-3, a nutrient needed during pregnancy, is just as important as folic acid. However, most of you may not know why it’s important to take DHA Omega-3.

In this article, we will explain that the reason why DHA Omega-3 such an important nutrient during pregnancy.

Brain growth for a baby

The first 1,000 days of a child’s growth are from the moment of conception to his or her second birthday. This is an invaluable period for parents to positively impact their child’s long-term physical and mental health and to help them reach their full potential.

Late pregnancy and young adulthood are critical periods for brain growth; DHA is a major constituent lipid in the brain, and the fetal and infant brains require a large accumulation of DHA as they grow; a 2009 study by Kannass et al. showed that infants born to mothers with high blood DHA levels at the time of delivery had higher levels of concentration duration at age 2.

Amount of DHA Omega-3 intake

The recommended requirement for pregnant women is 500 mg per day from a diet such as fatty fish or from any of the DHA-fortified foods, beverages or dietary supplements.

The 2018 Cochrane review found high quality evidence that taking long-chain omega-3 fatty acid supplements during pregnancy was associated with an 11% reduction in the risk of delivering a baby preterm (<37 weeks) (25 trials, 10,184 participants) and a 42% reduction in the risk of preterm delivery (<34 weeks) (9 trials, 5,204 participants) compared to not taking long-chain omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

In light of these findings, the study concludes that 500 to 1,000 mg of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA per day, plus a minimum of 500 mg of additional DHA per day, is most effective.

As we explained, it’s very important to take DHA and EPA when you get pregnant.

Study regarding DHA

Other evidence showing that maternal DHA status during pregnancy is crucial for infant brain development has been shown by a Norwegian study published in May 2018.

To investigate the importance of DHA in fetal or infant brain growth and development, they investigated the association between DHA status in pregnant women and problem-solving ability with healthy born infants. 

They measured the mothers’ DHA blood levels at 28 weeks of gestation and three months after delivery, and looked for correlations between blood fatty acid levels in infants at 3, 6 and 12 months of age and problem-solving skills in infants at 6 and 12 months of age.

Pregnant women’s DHA status was found to be positively correlated with the problem-solving ability of 12-month-old infants, even after taking into account such misleading factors as the mother’s educational background, which was used as an alternative to socioeconomic status. They also found that the DHA status of 3-month-old infants was positively correlated with their problem-solving ability at 12 months of age. 

They conclude that the results reinforce the importance of ensuring that pregnant or lactating women get enough DHA from diet or other sources. The modern diet contains sufficient amounts of ARA, but getting the optimal amount of DHA is more difficult.

Method of ingestion

The role of omega-3 PUFAs, otherwise associated with pregnancy, is to help alleviate postpartum depression as outlined in a 2017 psychoanalysis by Lin et al. Postpartum depression has been recognized for its negative effects on both mother and child, and this study further highlights the importance of getting adequate amounts of DHA during pregnancy and lactation.

DHA supports proper maternal or fetal health and is essential for a healthy pregnancy. It is now recommended that pregnant women get at least 500 mg of DHA omega-3 per day.

However, only a very limited number of women are taking the recommended levels, and if you are already pregnant or planning to become pregnant, make sure you get plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as good fats and proteins for your body.

Also, talk with your gynecologist about taking supplements that contain DHA for you and baby. And follow his/her guideline.

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