Why You Should Look for DHA in a Prenatal Vitamin

3 min read

Learn why experts recommend looking for omega-3 DHA in your prenatal vitamin.
Learn why experts recommend looking for omega-3 DHA in your prenatal vitamin.

It’s always important to give your body the nutrients it needs—but it’s especially important when you’re pregnant.

One nutrient that’s key for pregnant women (and their growing babies) is DHA. But what, exactly, is DHA? What are some of the health benefits it provides to mother and baby? And why should you look for DHA in a prenatal multivitamin?

What is DHA?

First things first—before we jump into the health benefits of DHA (and why it’s important during pregnancy), let’s first cover what DHA actually is. DHA is the abbreviation for docosahexaenoic acid, one of the three major Omega-3 fatty acids. (The other 2? Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA.) Omega-3s are an essential part of cell membranes and are involved with a variety of processes in the body, including supporting brain, heart and eye health.*

All the Omega-3 fatty acids are present in the body, but DHA is particularly prominent in the brain and eyes (which is why they play such a crucial role in supporting brain and vision health). Ongoing research also points to additional health benefits of DHA for pregnant women—including supporting the growing fetus.* (1)

Health Benefits of Prenatal DHA

How exactly can DHA help support your pregnancy? DHA (and Omega-3 fatty acids in general) may provide a number of health benefits to both baby and mother during pregnancy. For one thing, DHA is prominent in the brain and eyes—and research has found that DHA during pregnancy may help support a baby’s developing brain. All in all, it’s a key, researched component of a prenatal regimen.*

Why Do Docs Recommend Prenatal Vitamins With DHA?

DHA can be found in a variety of sea-based foods, including fish (including oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies), fish oils and krill oils. But here’s a fun fact: While DHA is commonly associated with fish oil, it’s originally synthesized from microalgae. The Omega-3 is built up in fish and other marine life as they ingest phytoplankton containing the microalgae. Either way, it can be tricky for pregnant women to get the recommended amount of DHA they need from diet alone—in fact, 95% of pregnant women in the United States are not getting their recommended daily intake of key Omega-3s.†*

That’s where DHA comes in.

Supplementing your diet with a DHA supplement while pregnant can help you get the Omega-3s you need. But you don’t want to have to spend your entire pregnancy downing multiple pills each day—so why not get your DHA right in your prenatal vitamin?

Just remember that not all supplements are created equal. If you want to maximize the nutrient support of your prenatal vitamin, you should look for a prenatal with quality ingredients—and key nutrients you need before, during, and after your pregnancy.

Get Your Prenatal DHA with Ritual

Ritual’s Essential Prenatal was formulated with nutrients to help fill gaps in your diet—including Omega-3 DHA, sourced directly from microalgae (making the DHA 100 percent vegan).


  1. Greenberg, J. A., Bell, S. J., & Ausdal, W. V. (2008). Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplementation during pregnancy. Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology, 1(4), 162–169. †Key omega-3s = DHA+EPA. There is no established Daily Value but experts suggest 250 mg per day of DHA+EPA.*