In addition to adequate exercise and getting quality rest, it is important for us to consume the right amount of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and others, based on our body’s dietary needs, every day to ensure we have a healthy life.
One particular necessary component is DHA. Without adequate DHA in our systems, this could affect the development and maintenance of our brain, skin and eyes.
In this article, we talk about Diet Standards prenatal DHA supplement which not only helps ensure you get enough DHA but also your baby, if you are expecting.
Continue reading to learn more!
What is DHA and what does it stand for?
DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid.
It is one of the most important omega-3 fatty acids. There are three main kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
What are omega-3s?
Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat or fatty acids which are important for your health as they are vital components of every cell membrane in your body.
Furthermore, they play a role in providing energy to the body as well as form eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are essentially signaling molecules which perform a wide range of functions in the body’s cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine systems.
What is the difference between DHA, EPA and ALA?
Firstly, ALA is classified as an essential fatty acid. This means that the human body cannot naturally produce it and, therefore, must be obtained through foods and beverages.
Although the human body cannot produce ALA, it can convert some of it into EPA and DHA. By conversion only then can it be utilized by the body for something other than energy. If not, then it is simply stored or used as energy like other fats.
The body can also actually produce small amounts of EPA and DHA, however, in order to fulfill dietary needs, you will need to consume foods, and dietary supplements if you take them, containing these fatty acids. This is the only practical way of increasing omega-3 levels in your body.
Lastly, all of these fatty acids serve a similar purpose in maintaining good health for your heart, brain, eyes and skin.
For instance, several observational studies had found that diets rich in ALA reduced risk of death from heart disease, while others showed greater risk of prostate cancer. This increased risk was not associated with EPA and DHA, which appeared to protect against this cancer.
Another example would be studies finding that consuming fish oil rich in EPA and DHA may help reduce symptoms of depression. Some evidence suggests that EPA is superior than DHA in this regard.
As a final example, DHA may have positive effects on certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, some cancers and arthritis. It also boosts heart health by reducing blood triglycerides; high triglyceride levels can lead to pancreatitis, fatty liver, diabetes, and heart attacks.
What are the sources of DHA?
DHA is mainly found in seafood, such as fish, shellfish and even algae. You can also obtain them from fish oils, krill oils and, of course, DHA supplements.
Several types of fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, are excellent sources of DHA.
Fish oils, such as cod liver oil, can provide as much as 1 gram of DHA in a single tablespoon (15 ml).
Even meat, dairy from grass-fed animals and pastured eggs can contain small amounts of DHA.
Why are the health benefits of consuming DHA?
There is a wide array of health benefits. A couple examples are as follows.
Omega-3s overall are good for your heart. For DHA in particular, based on the studies conducted on it alone, it is suggested that the fatty acid may be more effective than EPA for improving several aspects in heart health.
For instance, in one study conducted over 154 obese adults where they consumed 2,700 mg of DHA daily for over 10 weeks, their omega-3 index, which is a blood marker that is linked to a reduced risk of sudden death from heart complications, had increased by 5.6%.
Brain and mental health
As DHA makes up 50% of membrane composition in brain tissues, it is a vital for optimal brain performance and health. For instance, DHA helps boost blood flow during performing mental tasks.
DHA may also assist in improving attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as research had found that children and adults with ADHD commonly had lower levels of DHA in their systems compared to children and adults without ADHD.
Furthermore, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease were also found to have lower DHA levels in their brains opposed to older adults with optimal brain functions. Therefore, consuming adequate amounts of DHA could reduce the risk of types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s.
Lastly, regarding mental health, a study conducted on approximately 22,000 adults who consumed 300-600 mg of DHA and EPA daily were found to be at a lower risk of depression by 30%.
Inflammation is a common occurrence in muscles, especially after vigorous activity or exercise. Muscles that become sore can limit your range of movement.
DHA has anti-inflammation properties and, therefore, can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation, whether entirely on its own or in a combination with EPA.
This was found from one study conducted over 27 women who took 3,000 mg of DHA daily for a week; by the end of the study, compared to women placed in a placebo group, the women who consumed DHA had 23% less muscle soreness after doing bicep curls.
Why is DHA important for pregnant women?
The fatty acid is highly important in the brain and eye development in babies, particularly since these organs grow rapidly during the last trimester and early years of life.
It is necessary that the expecting mother consumes enough DHA throughout the pregnancy as well as after the baby has been born, whether through breastfeeding or formula.
By ensuring eye and brain health is maintained, the child is more likely to develop stronger capabilities in performing mental tasks in later stages of life. For instance, in one study over 82 babies, it was found that the DHA levels in mothers before childbirth were correlated in the child’s problem-solving ability by their first year.
Furthermore, consuming adequate amounts of DHA may also reduce the risk of early preterm births. Early preterm births are when a baby is born before approximately 34 weeks of pregnancy.
Is there a recommended dosage of DHA?
It is important to consult with your doctor or professional healthcare provider on the appropriate amount of DHA and other omega-3s for your needs. This is because every person’s dietary needs are unique and also to prevent an under or over dosage.
In the case of preventing early preterm births, a study conducted on a large scale of pregnant women had found that women who consumed 600-800 mg of DHA on a daily basis reduced the risk of early preterm births by more than 40% for those in the US and 64% for those in Australia.
However, there has yet to be a standardized guideline on the recommended dosage for DHA, but experts have recommended amounts for ALA. Below is the listed daily recommended amounts for ALA, except where explicitly stated otherwise.
- Birth to 12 months — 0.5 grams of omega-3s
- Children between 1-3 years — 0.7 grams
- Children between 4-8 years — 0.9 grams
- Boys between 9-13 years — 1.2 grams
- Girls between 9-13 years — 1.0 grams
- Teenage boys between 14-18 years — 1.6 grams
- Teenage girls between 14-18 years — 1.1 grams
- Men — 1.6 grams
- Women — 1.1 grams
- Pregnant teens and women — 1.4 grams
- Breastfeeding teens and women — 1.3 grams
Are there any side effects from consuming DHA?
DHA is generally safe to consume, however consuming it in the form of fish oil has been known to cause a number of side effects, including heartburn and nausea.
It can be unsafe when consumed in large amounts in one sitting. For instance, DHA-containing fish oils that are consumed in amounts greater than 3 grams in a day brings a higher risk of blood thinning.
Furthermore, there may be side effects for particular cases as well. For those who are aspirin-sensitive, DHA may affect your breathing. For those who have diabetes, particularly those with type 2 diabetes, DHA may increase blood sugar levels.
Which is better for consuming DHA supplements: fish oils or algae?
It may not be commonly known, but fish oils have some unpleasant side effects which could range from mild to severe. Below are some of these side effects:
Fish oil side effects
1. Upset stomach
You can experience various symptoms of an upset stomach, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These can be prevented if the fish oil supplements are consumed with a meal, than on an empty stomach.
2. Allergic reaction
This is particularly for individuals who have an allergy to seafood and/or shellfish. Fish oil supplements are definitely not recommended for allergic individuals, as they could trigger reactions including hives, difficulty breathing and swelling in the face, lips, tongue or throat.
3. Bleeding disorders
One of the severe symptoms, this is where the blood is unable of clotting or coagulating naturally. As mentioned before, this is an example of a risk of blood thinning which may cause people to bruise more easily.
On the other hand, algae can be a safer alternative and, rest assured, you will still be getting the same nutritional benefits of taking fish oil supplements, just with lesser unpleasant side effects.
For instance, in one study, algae oil supplements were found to be nutritionally equivalent to cooked salmon and your body reacts to it the same way as it would if you took fish oil.
Below are some examples of its advantages over fish oil:
Given the limited resources of fish, it is easier to cultivate algae. Algae grows faster and does not contribute to our over-fishing issues.
2. May contain higher omega-3 levels
Scientists are capable of selecting and growing certain strains of algae that are higher in omega-3s while, on the other hand, with fish the omega-3 levels they contain would depend entirely on their diet; fish get their omega-3 content from algae.
3. Lesser toxins
As algae is typically grown under controlled conditions and later purified when harvested, this ensures it is free from toxins and mercury that would otherwise be present in fish and fish oils. Furthermore, with its neutral or ‘clean’ flavor, it does not have any unpleasant taste.
What is a recommended prenatal DHA supplement?
We recommend Diet Standards prenatal DHA supplement.
What makes our product unique is that it is algae-based, made from algae that have been grown in a clean, sustainable environment, and is, therefore, 100% vegan.
Every bottle of our dietary supplements contain 180 vegan capsules, with each capsule containing 150 mg of DHA.
Our ingredients simply comprise of:
- Algae oil (from Marine Algae Schizochytrium sp.),
- Non-GMO Cornstarch, Seaweed Extract, Vegetable Glycerin, Sorbitol and Purified Water for the vegan gel shell.
We ensure that our product contains no allergens, fish, shellfish, milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat or soy. Therefore, if you are vegan, allergic to fish or shellfish, do not like the taste of fish or simply looking for a clean alternative that provides enough DHA for your needs, our product is just right for you!
Lastly, we see to it that every batch is tested by a third party lab before going to market, so rest assured that every bottle consumed has met or exceeded specifications for purity, potency, heavy metals and microbes.
DHA is a very important omega-3 fatty acid for all of us, regardless of age and gender. It helps in reducing the risk of diseases and promotes good health development of organs, particularly the heart and brain. As a result, it is absolutely vital that pregnant women consume adequate amounts to ensure of their health as well as their growing baby’s. Diet Standards prenatal DHA supplement is a dietary supplement that is 100% vegan and mercury-free, making it an ideal alternative for fish oils and other animal-sourced DHA supplements that still ensures you get adequate amounts of DHA.
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- “12 Health Benefits of DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid),” Healthline, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dha-benefits
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- “DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID,” RX List, 2019, https://www.rxlist.com/docosahexaenoic_acid/supplements.htm
- “Diet Standards Prenatal DHA – Algae-Based = 100% Vegan Pills – Best Omega 3 EPA & DHA Supplement to pair with Prenatal Vitamins,” Diet Standard, 2020, https://www.amazon.com/Diet-Standards-Prenatal-DHA-Algae-Based/dp/B01FGCTZFW
- “14 Little-Known Side Effects Of Fish Oil Supplements,” Cure Joy, 2017, https://www.curejoy.com/content/side-effects-of-fish-oil/#:~:text=%20Moderate%20To%20Serious%20Side%20Effects%20Of%20Fish,Bleeding%20disorders%20are%20conditions%20where%20the…%20More%20
- “What Is Algae Oil, and Why Do People Take It?,” Healthline, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/algae-oil