Consuming a nutritionally-rich diet is crucial at every stage of your life. However, the stakes are a lot higher during pregnancy, making it more important for you and your baby!
The baby gets most of its nutrients from the food you eat along with the vitamins you take, including Omega-3. As Omega-3 DHA cannot be synthesised in the body naturally, we have to ensure a consistent intake of Omega-3 DHA through diet or supplements available in the market.1
Here, we discuss the benefits, sources and recommended doses of Omega-3 DHA suitable for the developing child and soon-to-be moms. Let’s dive right in!
What Is Omega-3 DHA?
Omega-3 is a family of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.2 They act as the building blocks of healthy fat in our bodies. The family consists of three main members, namely alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).3 Out of the three, ALA is found in plant oils like soybean, canola, or flaxseed oils. Whereas, the other two components are majorly found in fish and other seafood items.3
Research has proven that consuming an optimal amount of DHA can aid in the growth of the baby in the womb as well as provide a wide array of benefits to moms.4 Therefore, doctors recommend making DHA a part of your regular diet during pregnancy.
What Is The Recommended Dose Of Omega-3 DHA?
The recommended dose of Omega-3 DHA is approximately 200 mg/day throughout your pregnancy and breastfeeding.5,6 During the pregnancy, Omega-3 DHA is passed from the mother to the baby via the placenta.7 Similarly, an infant gets their share of DHA from breast milk.8 Therefore, It is important to maintain a consistent intake of food and supplements rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
What Are The Benefits Of Omega-3 DHA?
Regular intake of the recommended dose of Omega-3 DHA during pregnancy can have the following advantages for the growing baby:
- Enhanced development of the central nervous system and the brain. As a result, kids grow up to have better attention spans and problem-solving skills.9,10,11
- DHA is abundant in the retina (responsible for sensing lights and sending signals to the brain). Taking the recommended dose of Omega-3 DHA helps develop a better visual perception in infants due to optimal development of the eyes in the womb.12,13
- According to research, Omega-3 DHA supplementation during pregnancy reduces the risk of preterm birth and leads to longer gestation duration14. In addition, the study showed that regular DHA intake also resulted in infants being born with the optimum birth weight, length and head circumference.14
In addition, it helps the mothers as it can:
- Reduce the chances of early preterm birth by 42%.15
- Help alleviate the symptoms of postpartum depression and stress.16
What Are The Sources Of Omega-3 DHA?
There are several food items that can provide the recommended dose of omega-3 DHA.
- Cold-water fatty fishes top this list. However, experts suggest that you limit the consumption to 2-3 servings/week and altogether avoid fishes with high mercury concentration17
- DHA-enriched food like eggs, yoghurt, milk or soy beverages3
- Plant oils and nuts like walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, and canola oil3
- Algal oil supplements3
How Can You Measure Omega-3 DHA Levels?
Pregnant women need to keep track of so many aspects on a day-to-day basis. It can be quite overwhelming, to say the least. However, measuring your DHA need not necessarily be a hassle. You can choose an at-home self-collection DHA test kit to check if your body has optimum levels of Omega-3 DHA. LifeCell’s OmegaScore-P and OmegaScore-N are convenient at-home DHA testing kits for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. They provide thorough results about your DHA levels coupled with expert recommendations and tips on how to maintain optimum Omega-3 DHA levels.
Now that you have learned all the necessary information about Omega-3 DHA, you can make informed diet choices. Proper planning will help you consume the recommended dose of Omega-3 DHA and benefit from its nutritional goodness. Moreover, you can opt for a simple DHA test periodically to keep an eye on your DHA levels. The test results will help you identify the right diet and supplementation that successfully elevate your Omega-3 DHA levels.