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Why DHA Is Important 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 the body nutrients it needs—but it’s especially important when you’re pregnant.

One nutrient that’s key for pregnant women is DHA. But what, exactly, is DHA? And why should you look for DHA in a prenatal multivitamin?

What is DHA?

First things first—before we jump into the importance of DHA (and why it’s especially 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.* (1)

Health Benefits of Prenatal DHA

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

†Key omega-3s = DHA+EPA. There is no established Daily Value but experts suggest 250 mg per day of DHA+EPA.*

Why Do Docs Recommend Prenatal Multivitamins 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 supplemental DHA comes in.

Supplementing your diet with a DHA supplement while pregnant can help support 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 a prenatal multivitamin?

Just remember that not all supplements are created equal. If you want to make the most out of taking a prenatal multivitamin, you should look for a prenatal with quality ingredients—and key nutrients you need before and during your pregnancy.*

Get Your Prenatal DHA with Ritual

Ritual’s Essential Prenatal was formulated with nutrients to help fill gaps in the diet—including 350 mg per serving of Omega-3 DHA, sourced directly from microalgae (making the DHA a vegan-friendly option).*

References:

  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.

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