The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are widely known. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is one type of omega-3 fatty acid that is especially important during pregnancy. During your last trimester, your baby’s brain takes up a large amount of this vital omega-3 fatty acid. In this article, we share the five key benefits of DHA during pregnancy. Then, we reveal how you can make sure you get enough of this critical prenatal nutrient.
Health Benefits Of DHA For Your Baby
Supplementing your diet with DHA during pregnancy supports a healthy full-term pregnancy and promotes healthy brain and eye development in your baby.
1. DHA supports full-term pregnancy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12% of babies born in the U.S. are born 22 to 36 weeks early. Babies born prematurely may require costly lifesaving treatment and prolonged hospitalizations. DHA intake during pregnancy can help to support a healthy full-term birth.
2. DHA is utilized rapidly by the baby’s brain and retina during pregnancy.
Omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, are building blocks of the baby’s brain and retina. According to Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, an expert on nutrition during pregnancy and the author of Expect the Best, your baby’s brain and eyes utilize DHA during the second trimester of pregnancy and continue until age two.
3. Taking DHA during pregnancy may support a healthy body weight and improve attention span in children.
Childhood obesity is on the rise. Although many factors play a role, studies have shown that DHA intake during pregnancy may support a healthy body weight in offspring. Other studies have also found that DHA during pregnancy may support healthy attention spans in preschool children.
4. DHA during pregnancy linked to improvements in infant response to stress
Health Benefits Of DHA For Moms
Interestingly, consuming DHA during pregnancy is not just beneficial for your baby. Take DHA during pregnancy may have some impact on maternal health, as well.
5. Seafood intake during pregnancy may promote mother’s overall well-being.
Eating seafood during pregnancy may benefit a mom’s mental well-being since observational data show a connection between low intake of DHA and EPA from seafood and a higher risk of sadness.
Try this tasty slow-cooker salmon recipe to help you fit DHA-rich salmon into your regular meal rotation.
How to Get Enough DHA During Pregnancy
Because DHA is so vital for both mom and baby’s health, it is critical that you consume enough DHA during pregnancy. You can either consume DHA through your diet or take high-quality prenatal vitamins with DHA.
Choose fatty fish or prenatal vitamins with DHA.
To get the DHA you need through your diet, be sure to eat 8-12 ounces of fatty fish each week. Good food sources of DHA include salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, trout, and mackerel.
If you are not eating 8-12 ounces of fatty fish each week, choose a prenatal supplement with DHA and take it during the second and third trimester of pregnancy.
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