During pregnancy, it can be stressful trying to include all of the nutrients you need to support your and your baby’s health while figuring out how to adapt your diet. At iwi life, we want to support you in this process, which is why we are here to introduce you to the importance of omega-3s and DHA while highlighting just how much you need and how you can get it.
What Is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is a type of healthy fat and plays a vital role in the body, as it makes up the building blocks of cell membranes and, consequently, impacts how cells in the body react with each other.
There are three main types of omega-3s:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a short-chain omega-3 precursor
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
The two most important omega-3s are EPA and DHA because of their many health benefits. Unfortunately, they are also some of the most difficult nutrients to obtain through your daily diet.
Therefore, you should make an extra conscious effort to include both EPA and DHA in your everyday routine. When it comes to pregnancy, your biggest focus should be on DHA because it is highly valuable to the health and development of your baby.
Why Should You Take Omega-3s When You Are Pregnant?
Omega-3s should always be a consistent part of your diet, as they can offer several benefits for your health, from supporting healthy blood pressure to promoting healthy joints.
As mentioned, omega-3s make a critical building block for cell membranes throughout the body; this is especially the case for DHA. DHA can be found in large amounts in brain cells and in the retina, meaning your intake of this fatty acid can directly affect the development and function of your child’s brain and eyes.
Some studies have even shown that higher DHA intake during pregnancy can help promote healthy eye function in infants. Other studies have shown even more benefits for a child’s cognitive health and function through consistent DHA intake. Children born to mothers with high DHA intake showed positive results during psychomotor tests as early as six months after birth.
Of course, your child continues to grow and develop rapidly after birth. As a result, it is essential to take omega-3s not just during pregnancy but also throughout the breastfeeding period. Children breastfed by their mothers, having taken considerable amounts of omega-3s, also showed promising benefits for their cognitive health. It is a good idea for a child to consume regular amounts of DHA throughout childhood to support proper growth and development.
DHA also offers several benefits for the mother during pregnancy. In general, DHA helps promote healthy cognitive function, supporting proper motor function, supporting healthy memory, and providing a potential boost in concentration. This vital nutrient also helps promote emotional wellness in combination with EPA, which is especially important during pregnancy. Altogether, these benefits are just as valuable for the mother as they are for the child.
How Much Do You Need?
Clearly, DHA is a necessary nutrient during pregnancy and beyond, but just how much do you need to ensure the health of your baby? Experts recommend consuming at least 200 mg of DHA per day. Fortunately, the right supplement can provide anywhere from 250 to 500 grams of DHA each day.
Some experts recommend taking at least 1.6 grams of ALA during pregnancy, but this is likely insufficient as ALA does not offer the same benefits for your baby as DHA. ALA omega-3 is also abundant in a typical diet and not necessary to supplement. Some ALA can be converted by the body into EPA and DHA, but not enough to provide for your body’s total needs.
Because nutrients can take some time to build up in your system, you should start taking omega-3s or omega-3-powered prenatal vitamins as early in pregnancy as possible. In fact, if you are trying to get pregnant, you may want to start taking these nutrients even before conception. The brain of the fetus begins to develop within just three weeks of conception, so early DHA intake can have an important impact on supporting your child’s development. However, retinal and neural development happens more rapidly during the second half of pregnancy.
Although the priority is DHA, EPA may be beneficial to consume, as it may play a role in supporting the transport of DHA into fetal cells. As a result, it may be beneficial to obtain at least small amounts of this important nutrient in addition to DHA.
How Can I Get More Omega-3s?
Although getting an adequate amount of DHA in your diet can be challenging compared to other nutrients, it is easy once you know how to find it.
The most popular source of omega-3 is fatty, oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. Although, few people include fish as an everyday part of their diet. To make it easier to obtain DHA, many people decide to take a fish oil or krill oil supplement instead.
However, there are several reasons why someone may not want to include fish in their daily diet. For example, if you are on a plant-based diet, have an allergy, or just cannot stomach the taste of fish, you may choose to avoid it. Fish can also present the potential risk of mercury contamination, which can be harmful to consume. Besides, who wants to deal with the fishy breath and indigestion that can come with fish or krill oil supplements?
Fortunately, there is an alternative, even more effective source of DHA omega-3s than fish. Instead, you can get your omega-3s from the same source that fish do — algae.iwi life’s algae-based DHA supplement is an excellent source of omega-3s, especially during pregnancy. In just one soft gel, you can obtain a complete 500 milligrams of DHA fatty acids.
Plus, with iwi life algae, you can get your omega-3s while maintaining peace of mind that you are not consuming any marine contaminants, like mercury.
Support a Healthy Pregnancy
By including DHA fatty acids in your diet, you can promote the healthy development of your baby, from pregnancy to throughout childhood.
To start taking the right steps to include DHA omega-3s in your diet, try iwi lifeomega-3 supplements. Our goal is to make it easy to boost your daily nutrition, no matter what your lifestyle or health needs. For even more support for your baby, try our prenatal vitamin, which contains not only DHA omega-3s but also vital nutrients during pregnancy, like folic acid, iron, and vitamins A through E. Maintain a healthy pregnancy with iwi life.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy | PMC
The Brain before Birth: Using fMRI to Explore the Secrets of Fetal Neurodevelopment | Environmental Health Perspectives | National Institute for Health Vol. 126, No. 11