Pregnancy + Parenthood

Why DHA Is Important in a Prenatal Multivitamin

4 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.

Article Content

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 people is omega-3 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 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 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 a healthy 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?

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.†*

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 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 your 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.

Prenatal Vitamins and DHA

Support your pregnancy DHA needs with Essential Prenatal Multivitamin

Just remember that not all prenatal multivitamins 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 for before and during your pregnancy.*

Ritual’s Essential Prenatal multivitamin was formulated with 12 key nutrients for before and during pregnancy—including 350 mg per serving of omega-3 DHA, sourced directly from microalgae (making the DHA a vegan-friendly option).*

Essential Prenatal multivitamin also includes 5-MTHF Folate instead of folic acid, which is a synthetic form of folate commonly found in prenatal multivitamins. (Up to one-third of people have a genetic variation that makes it difficult to efficiently utilize folic acid.) And it's formulated without artificial colors, synthetic fillers, GMOs, and major allergens like gluten. Bonus: It's also essenced with citrus, so you can look forward to taking your prenatal vitamins every day.*


  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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