DHA or Docosahexaenoic Acid is a long-chain unsaturated fatty acid, which is also popularly known as Omega-3. It is crucial for the human body as it helps our cell membranes to maintain an anti-inflammatory process and viscosity of cell membranes1.
Plenty of omega-3 DHA is found in the brain and retina. Moreover, It is also one of the raw materials for many metabolites that may later be used to prevent or treat multiple diseases1.
Now, we will discuss the importance of omega-3 DHA associated with pregnancy, fetal growth, and development. But before that, did you know that during pregnancy, the omega-3 DHA is transported over the placenta via venous blood (deoxygenated blood that flows in tiny capillary blood vessels)2.
Pregnant mothers are often advised to take omega-3 DHA because it is extremely important for a baby’s structural and developmental growth inside the womb.
Let us take a closer look, on how omega-3 DHA affects pregnancy.
Omega-3 DHA plays an important role in early pregnancy, which is required for placental development. Also, there has been evidence to support the fact that omega-3 DHA supplementation during the third trimester prevents the decrease of maternal omega-3 DHA3.
As omega-3 DHA is the main n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid in the brain gray matter, it contributes to about 15% of all fatty acids in the frontal cortex of a human brain. Not only this, but it's also responsible for neurotransmission (when neurons transfers nerve impulses), neurogenesis (production of new neurons), synaptic plasticity (changes that occur between two neurons for communication), and signal transduction (when cells reacts to substances in its surroundings by signaling) in the brain. Studies showed that consumption of omega-3 DHA during pregnancy even benefitted their child’s IQ3.
Omega-3 DHA deposition in the fetal brain occurs continuously throughout a baby's development in the womb, but it is predominantly active between 29 to 40 weeks3.
During the third trimester, a baby’s growing brain crucially needs DHA specifically in this period. Moreover, DHA is also important for placental development. Mothers who consumed omega-3 DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid- another type of omega-3 fatty acid), from week 20 till delivery had children with better visual and coordination abilities3.
Moreover, the higher levels of omega-3 DHA in plasma and breast milk have proven to benefit the brain's growth, visual acuity, the ability to identify shapes, details, etc., in newborns3.
By now, you must have had an idea of how your body and your baby's development benefit from omega-3 DHA. That is why you must intake nutritious food rich in omega-3 DHA and other required nutrients. As an expecting mother, you can get omega-3 DHA from seafood, fish oil supplements, and flaxseed oils4.
Moreover, you can ask your nutritionist or doctor to advise you on the appropriate dosage of omega-3 DHA supplements. Also, it is advised that before consuming any supplements or omega-3 DHA-rich foods, you should discuss any food allergies you may have with your primary healthcare provider.
The omega-3 DHA is amongst the necessary supplements a mother should take during pregnancy. Which is why we’ve come up with this blog to give your relevant and useful insights on the importance of omega-3 DHA.
Omega-3 DHA levels also aid in determining the development of a baby in the womb. Tests like OmegaScore- P helps expectant parents to determine the omega-3 DHA levels in maternal blood; which in turn explains the status of mother’s health, the baby’s health and the chances of any early preterm birth risks.