If you are planning to make a baby, you are in for a treat. It’s just that the treat comes after a lot of work. If the baby is already on its way, you already know how concerned you are about ensuring the best possible environment both during pregnancy and after. You probably even don’t have the time to read things on the internet. But, this is something important. This is about ensuring the proper nutrition of your unborn baby.
Most of the expected parents go through a lot of consultation and are usually receptive to a lot of advice as long as it’s about how to care for the baby as well as the pregnant mom. So, what about ensuring proper nutrition for both of them?
While many parents often don’t think about this, it’s paramount that the baby gets enough nutrition at their mother’s womb. It’s the key to their physical and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, not every mother can ensure that with their usual dietary routines. Therefore, they could certainly do with some nutritional reinforcements. This reinforcement can be easily achieved by taking a DHA supplement made for pregnancy.
What is a DHA Supplement?
DHA is short for Docosahexaenoic acid. It’s the ‘good fat’ that you may have heard about before. In its basics, DHA is made of omega-3 fatty acid, and responsible for an infant’s mental development during pregnancy and early childhood. They can usually be found in seafood including fish and shellfish. They can also be found in some marine algae.
Our bodies are capable of producing small amounts of DHA by itself. They are usually found in the cell membranes all over our body. However, the smaller quantities produced naturally can only do so much as to transmit messages between different nerves in one person. For pregnancy, it could really do with some supplementary help in the form of prenatal DHA or DHA supplements for pregnancy.
What Does It Do?
Omega-3 fatty acid or DHA is responsible for a host of different things in our body. As mentioned before, they primarily help to maintain communication between different nerves by sending electric signals. In general, they are used to treat high cholesterol and heart diseases. They are also very useful for some specific eye disorders by playing a key role in developing tissues found in the eyes as well as the entire nervous system.
For pregnancy, DHA is used to ensure appropriate infant development. Its effectiveness can also be found in helping pregnant moms to deal with mood swings and postpartum depression. They can ensure the proper growth of eye tissues, while also giving memory and brain development a boost. Therefore, they can also improve the thinking skills of infants and children. DHA can also ensure the baby is born with full weight.
How Does It Look Like?
Depending on the ways omega-3 fatty acid is extracted, along with the ingredients they were extracted from; DHA can look different. They are usually available in the shape of oils, soft gels, and flavored soft gels.
Usually, the DHA for pregnancy extracted from algae and fish looks like liquids or oil, while the DHA extracted from animal remains and red edible seaweed are formed into easy-to-consume soft gels. The flavored versions are usually soft gels or gummies laced with strawberries and are great for children.
Do Doctors Recommend Supplementing DHA During Pregnancy?
Both the American Pregnancy Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommend taking an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids before, during, and right after pregnancy. The former recommends taking a minimum of 300 mg DHA every day, while the latter organization breaks it down into eating about 8-12 ounces of fish and shellfish per week that contain DHA.
According to the doctor’s recommendation, all the women trying to conceive should start taking DHA and other prenatal vitamins before they get pregnant. For unplanned pregnancy, pregnant women should start taking DHA right when they come to know about it. The moms should continue taking DHA at least until the time they stop breastfeeding.
What Other Products Are Best During Pregnancy?
Many pregnant women love to use prenatal speakers and belly headphones . Due to increased blood volume, your legs, feet, and ankles can swell up during pregnancy. We recommend getting a good pair of compression socks for swelling legs. Just make sure to check the compression stockings size chart to assure a proper fit for your new compression socks.
Why Do Doctors Recommend Taking DHA for Pregnancy?
DHA or omega-3 fatty acids make up 25% of the human brain’s total fat content. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they are greatly beneficial for brain development. A research conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also found a plethora of benefits of taking DHA for pregnant moms and how it may ensure perfect neurological developments for infants.
The key reasons for Doctors recommending DHA include:
Brain Development: If the mothers are supplemented with DHA during pregnancy, their babies usually demonstrate better problem-solving skills, especially during the first year of their lives.
Eye Development: By facilitating the growth of eye tissues, DHA, if supplemented during pregnancy, can result in a better visual acuity in a baby’s early life.
Reducing Pre-Term Birth: The pregnant moms who take the recommended quantity of DHA tend to give birth after the full-term of pregnancy. By doing so, they can reduce all the complications that may arise from a pre-term birth. It can also reduce the time a new-born has to stay in the hospital.
ADHD and Autism: If the baby is born with higher DHA levels, they have shown to have benefitted in terms of neurodevelopment during childhood. On the other hand, if the baby is born with a DHA deficiency, it can lead to attention-deficit, autism spectrum disorders, and so on.
Is It the Same as A Prenatal Multivitamin?
No. Don’t mix-up prenatal multivitamins with DHA supplements. DHA is mostly suited to supplement you with omega-3 fatty acids, which can’t usually be found in prenatal multivitamins. One the other hand, while DHA contains a little dose of vitamin D3, it can’t supplement the iron deficiencies, folic acid, and other nutrients found in multivitamins. Therefore, one should take both the prenatal vitamins and a DHA for pregnancy.
Is it Possible to Eat Enough DHA in my Normal Diet?
As you know already, DHA is found mainly in seafood such as fish and shellfish. Fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon is filled with DHA along with EPA. There are also some food items like fortified eggs and milk, usually containing two types of DHA. However, as different bodies process foods differently, eating fish and other food items containing omega-3 alone may not be sufficient enough for the increased quantity recommended for pregnancy.
For vegetarians and vegans, it is even trickier as they don’t consume fish and most other diets containing DHA. Algae do contain DHA, but not all of them are edible. As a result, a DHA supplement suitable for pregnancy is recommended for all expected moms as it contains omega-3 in its purest form.
Where Can I Buy DHA for Pregnancy?
As is the norm of today’s world, DHA for pregnancy is widely available online – in various marketplaces. You can also usually find them in traditional drug stores. They are not regulated by the FDA, and can also be found in grocery stores, organic food stores, supplements selling stores, etc. The soft gel DHA is usually packed in a bottle containing 90 counts, 120 counts, and 180 counts.
What Should You Be Looking for in DHA Supplements?
While FDA doesn’t regulate DHA manufacturers, finding the most reliable and the best DHA supplement can be a tricky task. You should conduct thorough research, look for word-of-mouth advice, and read the reviews posted by users under a DHA listing online. There are also DHA supplements with certifications from third-party authority bodies like the NSF International, ConsumerLab, U.S. Pharmacopeia, etc.
If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or allergic to fish oils; read through the fine prints and labels to find out which DHA is made using only Algae or red seaweeds. If you have a brand that you trust for their quality assurance and through tasting, the process of deciding upon the best DHA for pregnancy should be much easier for you.
What’s The Best DHA Brand We Recommend?
While the marketplaces – both online and offline – are filled with DHA from a variety of brands, not every one of them follows the same process of extracting omega-3 fatty acids. Not everyone has the same quality standards either.
So, considering how stressful pregnancy can be, we have conducted all the research mentioned above to find you the best DHA supplement brand for pregnancy. According to our findings, we are very confident about recommending a vegan dha supplement pregnancy.
What Makes Prenatal DHA So Great?
Obviously, there are a number of great reasons why we recommend Prenatal DHA. In our research, we found it to meet all our principle criteria to be considered the best and some more.
First and foremost, pick a product that a domestically-produced and went through rigorous testing conducted by a third-party lab, to make sure it meets or exceeds the quality standard in terms of purity, microbes, potency, and heavy metals.
You can also choose a brand that is 100% vegan and contains no extracts from fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, or any other animal ingredients. You might consider looking for allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts, soy, or wheat; making it suitable for all pregnant women with different dietary habits.
Can You Take Too Much DHA? Will it Hurt the Baby?
The minimum quantity for DHA supplement intake is between 200 mg to 300 mg, while the upper limits vary from person to person. However, some research has shown that taking more than 1000 mg of DHA every day doesn’t have any extra benefits for either the pregnant person or the baby.
Don’t worry about taking too much DHA though, as it doesn’t have any conclusive proof of any severe side-effects. The most it can do is to cause mild nausea, bad breath, etc. It doesn’t have any bad effects on the baby either.
To summarize, the importance of sufficient DHA containing omega-3 fatty acids can’t be stressed any further. It can be found in every cell membrane of our body to facilitate a perfect immune system response. It also plays a vital role to maintain a healthy heart, a properly functioning nervous system, as well as eye and neurological development of infants.
As most pregnant women tend to have a deficiency of omega-3 in their bodies, doctors recommend taking additional DHA supplements before, during, and after the pregnancy. They also have some long-term health benefits, and the mothers are recommended to continue taking DHA supplements as long as they breastfeed or lactate.
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