It’s always important to support the body with nutrients —but it’s especially important when you’re pregnant. One nutrient that’s key during pregnancy is omega-3 DHA. But what, exactly, is Omega-3 DHA? And why should you look for a prenatal with DHA?
What Is Omega-3 DHA?
First things first—before we jump into the importance of omega-3 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 an important 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 a healthy pregnancy? DHA (and Omega-3 fatty acids in general) may provide a number of supporting 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.*
Why Are Prenatal Multivitamins With DHA Recommended?
The bottom line is that it can be tricky for birthing parents 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.†*
†Key omega-3s = DHA+EPA. There is no established Daily Value but experts suggest 250 mg per day of DHA+EPA.*
That’s where a DHA dietary supplement comes in—it can help support omega-3 needs. But there are a couple of important caveats to consider when shopping around for the right prenatal DHA supplement:
Omega-3 DHA is often sourced from fish oil. The thing is, this isn't totally necessary. While it's true that DHA can be found in a variety of sea-based foods, including fish (like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies), here’s a fun fact: DHA is actually originally synthesized from microalgae. The omega-3 is built up in fish and other marine life as they ingest phytoplankton containing the microalgae. With that (and our vegan community) in mind, we decided to cut out the middleman (middle-fish?) and go straight to the source. Our multivitamins—including Essential Prenatal—are formulated with omega-3 DHA sourced from microalgae.
Some prenatal multivitamins don't include omega-3 DHA within the same formula—you have to take that separately. From our POV, it's not exactly fun to spend an entire pregnancy downing several pills each day. That's why we create our Essential Prenatal multivitamin as a prenatal multi + DHA in one single formula.