Wait… Are You Supposed to Take Prenatal DHA During Pregnancy?
Does it sometimes seem like pregnancy is a big list of “shoulds” and “should nots”?
You probably already know that alcohol, deli meats, and extreme sports are out.
You also likely know that regular check ups and prenatal multivitamins are in.
But did you know you probably need to add a DHA supplement to your diet… and that it’s most likely not already included in your prenatal multivitamin?.
Well, we have good news! We have done all the necessary research on DHA and looked into all of the different prenatal supplement options. Read on to learn more. Your baby will thank you.
What is Prenatal DHA?
DHA is an abbreviation for docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that is necessary for a variety of processes in the human body.
While everyone needs DHA for optimal health, pregnant women need more than the average Joe. This is because omega-3s are vital for the development of fetal brains and eyes.
Prenatal DHA is a DHA supplement designed to meet the increased needs of pregnant women and their developing babies.
How Can I Get the Right Amount of DHA needed for Pregnancy?
Surely, if DHA is so important, you can easily get the right amount from your diet, right?
While it is technically possible, it is incredibly difficult.
This is because the main, easily absorbed source of DHA in the human diet is fish.
Are you vegan or vegetarian? Then fish is out.
Do you like the taste of fish? If not you’re also out of luck.
Did you doctor mention that you should limit the amount of fish you eat during pregnancy because they tend to be high in heavy metals? It’s good advice, but it also means DHA is going to be difficult to get from diet alone.
The only other big option for DHA in the diet tends to be seeds such as flax, hemp, and chia. Unfortunately, however, these are also high in omega-6 fatty acids which, despite their similar name, are actually harmful to your health.
Some foods, such as eggs and orange juice, may have DHA added, but it appears that this fortification isn’t enough for most people. In fact, only about 2% of the population gets enough DHA from diet alone. With higher DHA needs, pregnant women are especially at risk of being deficient.
This is why taking a DHA supplement is a good idea.
What Should You Be Looking for in a DHA supplement?
Unfortunately, not all DHA supplements are created equal.
You should look for one that is ethically sourced, easily absorbed, and meets your daily DHA needs. Remember that prenatal DHA is usually different from a prenatal multivitamin and works best when taken in conjunction with one.
What Should You Avoid in a DHA Supplement?
You should avoid DHA supplements that contain high levels of contaminants and/or omega-6 fatty acids. Depending on your personal eating habits, you may also want a supplement that is vegan and vegetarian friendly.
While this may not seem to complicated, unfortunately it is sometimes difficult to find a supplement that meets these standards.
The most common supplement source, fish oil and its derivatives, tends to be high in toxins, have questionable sources, and taste like fish. It is also definitely off the table for vegans and vegetarians.
Other animal based sources such as those from mussels and seals run into similar issues.
Plant based sources, on the other hand, often come from seed oils and are problematic because they typically also high levels of omega-6 fatty acids.
But, a quick biology lesson solves the problem. Fish are high in omega-3s because they eat tiny microalgae that are high in omega-3s. Supplements made from this original source are easily absorbed, low in contaminants, and environmentally friendly. They are also appropriate for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
The Best Prenatal DHA Supplement
So what is the best prenatal DHA supplement?
We recommend Diet Standards Prenatal DHA because it is derived from algae. This makes it great for you because it is easily absorbed. It is also great for the environment because it does not involve questionable harvesting tactics or any animal deaths. And, most importantly, it is great for your baby because he or she will get all the omega-3s needed for healthy eyes and a healthy brain.
Just one serving of Diet Standards Prenatal DHA contains enough DHA to keep you and your baby going strong with no negative side effects.
Where Can you Buy Prenatal DHA?
If the year 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you can buy anything and everything online. Not only is it convenient, but it makes it easy to compare different items.
And the internet is also the best place to prenatal DHA! For example, you can get Diet Standards DHA on Amazon.
While you are doing your online shopping, you should also make sure to grab a prenatal multivitamin. You’ll get the best results when you take the two together.
Why Should You Take DHA while Pregnant?
Want your baby to have healthy brain development?
Want your little boy or girl to have healthy eyes?
DHA can help! In fact, taking DHA supplements is one of the easiest things you can do to make sure your child is growing healthy and strong and give him or her a good head start in life.
In addition to the other benefits, DHA has also been shown to help reduce preterm births. Babies who make it to at least 37 weeks start out with a great advantage in life since they typically have stronger lungs and extra fat deposits. Making sure you get enough DHA can help you and your baby avoid the trials that accompany preterm birth.
And don’t forget about you! Taking care of your own mental and physical health can ensure that you get the most out of your interactions with your little one. Since DHA also helps lower your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and Alzeheimer’s and has a positive effect on general mental health, you’ll be setting yourself up to stick around for your baby for many years to come.
How often should you take Prenatal DHA?
As always, talk with your doctor about any supplements you are taking. In general, however, most women just need to take prenatal DHA once per day. You can make it part of your routine and take it at the same time you take your prenatal multivitamin. It may be easier on your stomach if you take it with a meal, but this is not strictly necessary.
When should you start taking Prenatal DHA?
In the best case scenario, you’ll want to start taking prenatal DHA before you conceive. This will give you some extra stores so your baby can start getting the benefits of DHA right away. If possible, have your partner start taking some DHA too- it has been shown to have great benefits for male reproductive health!
But it’s never too late to get benefits from DHA. Even if you are only a few weeks from giving birth, your baby will still benefit from that extra omega-3 boost!
In general, start taking DHA as soon as possible!
Should You Still Take Prenatal DHA while Breastfeeding?
And as soon as you give birth, all benefits of DHA stop, right?
Of course not!
In fact, if anything, DHA might be more important when breastfeeding.
Think about it… your baby only really starts packing on the pounds at the end of pregnancy. For most of it, you are only supporting yourself and a tiny child who is less than 5 pounds.
But what if you choose to breastfeed? Well, then, for the first six months after birth, however, you are completely supporting yourself and your baby, who may be as big as 20 pounds by the end of that time!
And though your baby may start eating some solids after six months, he or she is still going to mostly rely on your milk for at least the first year after birth. And he or she may be up to thirty pounds by then!
All this is to say that it is important to have enough nutrients for your recovery from childbirth and baby’s rapid growth during the first year of life (or as long as you choose to breastfeed). The best way to do that is to make sure you keep taking your prenatal DHA and prenatal multivitamin.
What if you didn’t learn about the benefits of DHA until after your baby was born? Remember, it is never to late to start reaping the benefits of adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. You can and should start supplementing while breastfeeding, even if you didn’t supplement DHA during pregnancy.
And what if you are not breastfeeding? DHA has been shown to help with muscle recovery. It may still be a good idea to supplement for a while to help you recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Do the Health Benefits Continue Even After Pregnancy and Beyond?
While DHA is incredibly important for pregnant women, it is also important for the general population. Even if you are done having kids and done breastfeeding, you can still improve your health by taking DHA supplements.
If you are part of the 98% of the population that doesn’t get enough DHA, you should consider supplementing! It can help:
- Your heart: Adequate DHA intake is associated with better circulation and lower blood pressure. It has also been shown to lower your risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States.
- Your mind: There is evidence of improved ADHD outcomes for people who supplement with DHA. It may also help mental health, specifically by decreasing your likelihood of developing major depression. Amazingly, DHA can also slow or prevent Alzheimer’s!
- Your eyes: Yes, DHA helps with fetal eye development. Likewise, it can help keep your eyes strong.
- Other chronic disease: You are less likely to develop certain kinds of cancers if you take enough DHA. In the short run, it can also help reduce inflammation, which has been linked to many negative health problems.
With all of these benefits and essentially no downsides, there is no reason not to start supplementing with DHA!
As always, however, talk to your doctor about any supplements you take. You will also want to follow the same advice for finding a good prenatal DHA supplement when finding a general DHA supplement. Make sure that it comes from an ethical source, is easily absorbed, and works with your diet plan.
You probably need a DHA supplement, especially if you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding. You and your baby will be happy you took it. Your supplement will help the little one’s brain and eye development and help you stave off deadly diseases in the long run.
But, make sure you are taking the best supplements possible. We recommend Diet Standards Prenatal DHA because it is ethically sourced and easily absorbed. Since it is derived from algae instead of an animal, it is also compatible with all eating plans, including vegetarian and vegan ways of eating.
Don’t delay! Adding DHA might be the best thing you can do for your health and your family’s health today.