Should Pregnant Women Take DHA ? How Much A Day ?

dha for pregnancy

DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that plays a very important role in the formation of the neuronal, visual, gray matter layer in the brain of children. Lack of DHA in the early stages of development of children can cause children to face the risk of mental retardation, poor intelligence, immunity decline … In addition, DHA also help pregnant women prevent a diseases such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, postpartum depression …

What is DHA?

dha for pregnancy

DHA is the acronym for Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a long chain unsaturated fatty acid belonging to the Omega-3 group. Along with EPA, DHA is essential for the formation and development of the nervous system, brain, vision, and cardiovascular health of children.

DHA is a major component of the gray matter of the brain, the retina, which is actively involved in cardiovascular and immune systems … DHA accounts for 20% of the brain’s mass and accounts for nearly 60% of the retina. DHA and EPA produce neuronal sensitivities, enabling faster and more accurate communication.

DHA has up to 20% of brain weight and nearly 60% of the retina. DHA and EPA produce neuronal sensitivities, enabling faster and more accurate communication.

Our bodies can not produce DHA and EPA on their own, so they have to be replenished completely from the outside through food and supplements.

Why DHA is important for fetus and pregnancy?

Normally, the body does not produce DHA but its body needs for DHA is very large so it needs to be replenished regularly. During pregnancy, the mother’s body will increase the amount of DHA required to help the fetus develop the most important organs, such as the brain, the visual system, the circulatory system. This process will culminate in the third trimester (the last 3 months of pregnancy) and during the first year of life when breastfeeding.

  • For infant brain development
    Research has shown that infants whose mothers supplemented with DHA in the second half of pregnancy tend to achieve a higher score on hand-eye coordination tests than other children. In addition, the IQ of these children is also higher. Some studies conducted on 30-month-olds show that infants who have received large amounts of DHA in the uterus develop a better nervous system. In addition, for five years, these infants were always more likely to focus than those who received less DHA. At present, there are thousands of studies addressing the role of DHA in children’s intellectual development.
  • For visual development
    According to University of British Columbia studies on the benefits of visual acuity, it was found that two-month-old infants with higher levels of visual acuity were more likely to receive this nutrient while still in the womb.
  • For the weight gain of the child
    Researchers from the University of Maastricht show that there is a close relationship between the level of DHA in a mother, especially early in pregnancy, with head circumference and birth weight. Other studies have noted that a pregnant woman’s DHA supplementation may reduce the risk of preterm delivery, even for mothers who have ever had a preterm birth.
  • For mother’s health
    Many large-scale studies over the years found that pregnant women with DHA supplements will help prevent common conditions in pregnant women such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, postpartum depression. Resistance and cardiovascular activity of pregnant women also increased when fully supplemented with DHA during pregnancy.

Consequences of DHA deficiency

In children, deficiency of DHA will directly affect intelligence, readability, memory and behavior. Children are more likely to develop dementia, poor learning, slow development compared to their peers.

In pregnant women, DHA deficiency is more likely to develop postpartum depression. Therefore, doctors recommend pregnant women and lactating women should supplement 200mg DHA per day to benefit the baby as well as the mother herself.

When should I start taking DHA supplements for pregnant women?

You know, even from the womb, brain development and intellectual development of children has grown very strong.
Entering the second trimester (3 months between the pregnancy of April, May, June), the fetus forms auditory and visual sensation, so that the child can easily feel the light outside, hear the sound around the womb and learn how to get information from outside.

By the ninth month of pregnancy, the size of the fetal brain is about 25% larger than that of an adult. Therefore, mothers need to understand that DHA supplementation for early pregnancy is very important. Below we will talk more about how DHA supplementation for standard pregnancy is appropriate.

DHA supplementation for standard pregnancy in stages

The fetus absorbs DHA from the food source, through the placenta in the womb, and breast milk when it is born. Adding DHA to your daily diet during pregnancy and lactation will ensure that your baby has the right amount of DHA to grow. In general, all stages should be supplemented with 200mg of DHA as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the stages are slightly different.

  • 1st trimester : In addition to taking iron, protein, calcium, mothers need to remember to include both DHA in their daily diet.
    This is a relatively sensitive period is the premise to help mothers reduce the risk of preterm birth, pre-eclampsia, especially to help the fetus develop best from the early years.
    This period, in addition to omega-3 supplements containing DHA, pregnant mothers should also supplement DHA from food sources.


  • 2nd trimester : During this period, the morning sickness is almost gone, you can eat normally. So this is a step to accelerate the quality of nutrition for the fetus. At this stage, the baby’s brain is constantly developing and strongest, so DHA plays an extremely important role in providing flexibility and elasticity for the neuronal membrane.
    At this time, supplemental DHA levels may be higher than in the early stages.


  • 3rd trimester : At this stage, the gourd does not need to speed up eating as it did in the previous period, but also to maintain a proper and adequate diet.
    In the last 3 months of pregnancy, the size of the fetus and brain increases, so much DHA is needed. In addition to supplements containing DHA, mothers should also supplement more rich foods rich in DHA than the previous two phases.

Proper DHA supplementation is effective when pregnant

dha epa

Many people have heard of DHA, but few know that another type of Omega-3 EPA also contributes significantly to the development of fetus and pregnancy. The DHA / EPA couple needs to be complementary at the same time to achieve the desired effect.
EPA will help stimulate DHA to be absorbed through the placenta in the fetus, EPA and DHA are involved in effective neurotransmitter and anti-inflammatory processes. Therefore, if the DHA supplement without EPA, the effect on the fetus is usually low.

Scientists have tested various DHA / EPA formulas and concluded that the DHA / EPA ratio was about 4/1 (4 DHA – 1 EPA), the same as that in breast milk. Supplements during pregnancy, breastfeeding because it helps to absorb the maximum DHA through the placenta, breast milk to enter the fetus and baby.

Scientists have tested various DHA / EPA formulas and concluded that the DHA / EPA ratio was about 4/1 (4 DHA – 1 EPA), the same as that in breast milk. Supplements during pregnancy, breastfeeding because it helps to absorb the maximum DHA through the placenta, breast milk to enter the fetus and baby.

In nature, only natural tuna oil, with a certain age and special technology, can extract the DHA / EPA Omega-3. This is why fish oil in Nordic countries, caught in clean waters, is the number one choice among wise mothers and is only added to premium products for women pregnant and breastfeeding.

Foods rich in DHA for pregnant women

As recommended by the experts, the mother should be supplemented with about 200mg of DHA per day to foster growth. DHA supplements may come from food, possibly from drugs containing DHA in the capsule or omega 3 tablet. In countries with clean marine fish sources, DHA supplementation from food sources is a major supplement.

Foods rich in DHA include Seafish. However, gourmands need to know that not all fish are equally rich in DHA and that the seabed in unsafe waters can contain heavy mercury, heavy metals, and harm the fetus. Safe fish such as salmon, tuna, tilapia … Mother can also refer to some foods rich in DHA:

  • Some algae are natural sources of DHA. However, the rate of algae DHA / EPA is not good, this is not the first choice to supplement DHA, EPA for pregnant women.
  • Fat of salmon, herring, mackerel also contains more DHA.
  • Tuna ocean oil.
  • Small amounts of DHA can be found in chicken and egg yolk.
  • Cod liver oil is also a good source of DHA; however, they are rich in vitamin A and can cause fetal toxicity if used regularly because high doses of prolonged vitamin A are toxic to both mothers and fetus.

In short, to ensure a healthy body, especially for the development of the child’s brain, it is important to ensure adequate supply of DHA. When supplemented with the necessary amount of DHA, children will have better memory, faster vision, and the body is healthy enough to fight respiratory, allergic and cold diseases, cold, flu …

Pregnant women with adequate DHA supplementation during pregnancy can prevent pre-eclampsia, postpartum depression, and cardiovascular and immune diseases. However, the wise woman should remember to choose the best DHA and EPA supplements to care for your baby.

If you choose the supplement with DHA and EPA should not forget to check the composition of DHA / EPA with the ratio 4/1 gold is considered optimal for the development of the baby right in the womb!

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