Do I Need Prenatal Vitamins with DHA?

If you’re trying to conceive or you’ve just gotten pregnant, then you may want to start taking care of your body more carefully. One way to do this is to ensure that you’re getting the right nutrients for you and your baby. Aside from eating a well-balanced diet, you may think about taking prenatal supplements.

You may have noticed that not all supplements are the same. Some of these vitamins contain what most people consider must-haves, including DHA and folic acid, while others may not. If you’re wondering if you really need prenatal vitamins with DHA, read on.

Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal supplements contain multivitamins and more. Prenatal supplements should be taken daily during pregnancy. These vitamins are also recommended for women who plan to get pregnant soon. Your physician may prescribe prenatal supplements for you during your first prenatal checkup. You can also buy them even without a prescription.

To stay strong and healthy, the body needs vitamins and minerals from food. During pregnancy, the body needs more of these nutrients than before. If you’re having twins or triplets, then you certainly need a greater amount of these nutrients than when pregnant with one baby.

Vegetarians or women with food allergies may also need prenatal supplements to obtain these essential nutrients.

DHA for Moms

Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA is a kind of omega-3 fatty acid, which is primarily obtained from fish. This nutrient is essential for different health functions in adults. DHA is a fatty acid derived from fish oil, and it provides pregnant women many benefits for the heart and other bodily functions.

Essential fatty acids such as DHA are crucial in promoting general health. However, these fatty acids are not produced naturally by the body, and so they must be consumed through proper diet or supplementation. Here are some benefits of taking DHA:

  • Together with another omega-3 fatty acid, DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) serve as anti-inflammatory agents in the body.
  • Proper intake of DHA is crucial in maintaining the body’s production of prostaglandins, which help in controlling many physiological functions of the body such as blood clotting, blood pressure, nerve transmission, allergic and inflammatory responses, and kidney and gastrointestinal tract functions.
  • Without DHA, the body has a higher risk of getting diseases such as arthritis, hypertension, depression, atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, thrombosis, myocardial infarction, and some cancers. Adults who have appropriate DHA supplementation have a reduced risk of these diseases.
  • DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids also help in producing breast milk after birth. Pregnant moms who have had previous pregnancies may be depleted of these essential nutrients.
  • DHA and EPA are also linked to a healthier pregnancy by reducing the risk in preterm labor and delivery. Essential fatty acids are also known to lower the risk of developing preeclampsia while helping reduce the mother’s risk for depression after giving birth.

DHA for Baby

Your baby’s development depends on your health, and this is why it’s crucial to get the correct amount of DHA before and during pregnancy. Here are ways DHA can help your growing baby:

  • One of the ways to enjoy a healthy pregnancy is to ensure DHA intake, which helps promote proper brain development of the fetus, contributing to better learning habits later in life.
  • DHA also helps in promoting the development of the nervous and immune system while allowing healthy eye development.
  • Adding DHA and other fatty acids to a pregnant woman’s diet can help reduce the risk of allergies in babies.

Where to Get DHA

DHA is found in fish such as trout, salmon, anchovies, tuna, and freshwater bass. You can also get DHA from shark and swordfish. However,  getting DHA from these food sources may be a problem if you don’t eat enough seafood. With prenatal vitamins with DHA supplements, you can still get this essential nutrient.

  • Experts recommend taking supplements with DHA amounting to 200 to 600 mg per day for at least six weeks before pregnancy and during pregnancy. The supplement should also be taken while breastfeeding the baby.
  • There are various brands of prenatal vitamins containing DHA. If your physician recommends a prenatal vitamin that doesn’t contain DHA or has less than 300 mg of this nutrient, consider buying a separate DHA supplement.
  • Many over-the-counter prenatal vitamins even come with the appropriate amount of DHA supplement in them. You can also ask your physician for a specific brand recommendation.

Final Thoughts

DHA is an essential fatty acid shown to provide health benefits if found appropriately in a diet. Because of the many benefits of DHA to both the pregnant mother and her developing baby, it would be helpful to consider taking prenatal vitamins with DHA during pregnancy.  However, before taking any food supplements, it is recommended that you consult your health provider first.

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