We often hear that DHA is good for your little one’s brain. In fact, not only for children, DHA also has benefits for pregnant women and fetuses in the womb.
Here are some of the benefits of DHA for pregnant women that you need to know.
Benefits of DHA for pregnant women
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is produced naturally in the body. Even though it is produced naturally, the quantities are usually small.
Therefore, pregnant women are often asked to eat foods and supplements containing DHA so that the benefits are optimal.
Launch journal Obstetrics & GynecologyDHA is useful for supporting optimal fetal development, such as the development of the fetus’ nerves, brain and eyes, as well as the pregnancy process.
The following are some of the benefits of DHA for pregnant women:
1. Reduces the risk of preeclampsia
One study found that pregnant women who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements had a lower risk of developing preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication when the mother’s blood pressure is high. This also causes pregnant women to experience increased levels of protein in their urine and, if left untreated, can cause organ damage.
2. Prevent premature labor
Taking DHA supplements or vitamins for pregnant women is also claimed to be beneficial in reducing the risk of premature labor. Especially, if you regularly consume it in the final trimester of pregnancy.
Study American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involving 350 pregnant women taking 600 mg of DHA supplements every day during the third trimester of pregnancy.
As a result, pregnant women who drank DHA had normal pregnancy periods and babies with birth weight, body length and head circumference greater than mothers who were given a placebo.
However, further research is still needed regarding the benefits of DHA for pregnant women.
3. Improves postpartum mood
DHA and other types of Omega-3 fatty acids, namely EPA, are useful for improving postpartum mood and preventing depression.
A study states that patients who experience depression on average do not have enough DHA and EPA in their bodies. Therefore, pregnant women who consume omega-3 fatty acids may be able to help reduce symptoms of depression after giving birth.
4. Good for children’s brain development
Apart from the health of pregnant women, DHA is also beneficial for children’s brain development.
Children born to mothers who consume enough DHA supplements have been shown to have better problem-solving abilities in the first year of life, compared to mothers who are deficient in DHA.
5. Reduces the risk of ADHD and autism in children
There are other benefits of DHA for babies, from pregnant women who consume it regularly.
Babies born with high DHA levels are considered to have better nerve and brain development. Meanwhile, babies whose DHA levels are deficient may be more at risk of developing autism spectrum disorders and ADHD.
6. Increase focus
Launch American Pregnancy Associationadequate DHA intake in pregnant women can help improve the baby’s behavior, attention, focus and learning process at birth.
DHA is also claimed to be useful in reducing the risk of babies experiencing allergies at birth, because they have a good immune system.
Nutrients that must be consumed during pregnancy
When is the best time to take DHA?
Most experts recommend taking DHA supplements every day, especially for people who don’t get enough DHA through food.
Women who are planning a pregnancy are recommended to start taking prenatal vitamins, such as DHA, at least three months before becoming pregnant.
Meanwhile, pregnant women are recommended to take additional DHA supplements or vitamins of around 200 mg to 300 mg per day according to their needs and health conditions.
Don’t forget to consult further with your obstetrician, OK!
Foods that contain DHA for pregnant women
Apart from consuming supplements, several foods and drinks that can increase DHA for pregnant women include:
- Soy products
- Fruit juice
There are also foods that contain DHA naturally, such as seafood and chicken.
However, make sure you eat seafood according to the recommended portions and choose types of seafood that are fresh, high quality and low in mercury, such as:
Even though it contains DHA, pregnant women should not eat seafood with high levels of mercury such as shark, king mackereland bigeye tuna.
To be safer, choose fish or seafood that has the “Safe Catch” logo, is fresh, and does not contain mercury.
Consult your doctor further about what foods are safe for pregnant women to consume, OK?