Why is DHA so important during your pregnancy?

DHA sourcesDHA sources

Did you know that your fetus’s brain begins to develop soon after conception? And you can help to nurture his or her brain growth by consuming the vital nutrient such as DHA.

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid, which may sound very scientific, but it’s simply a type of omega-3 fatty acid. It is an excellent aid in the development of your growing baby’s brain and eyesi.

Consuming DHA is important during your pregnancy as it develops your growing baby’s brain, which becomes a control center of skills including IQ and EQ. A well-developed brain will help your growing baby reach important developmental milestones in the future, including intellectual, motor, emotional, and communication skills.iv As a building block of your growing baby’s brain, DHA accumulates most rapidly in his/her brain during the last trimester of your pregnancy until the early years of life.ii

How much DHA do you and your growing baby need?

The World Health Organization recommends at least 200 milligrams of DHA each day during your pregnancy to support your health as well as your growing baby’s development.iii

Where can you and your growing baby get DHA?

  • Fatty fish - such as salmon and sardines, which are easy to prepare as a tasty meal. Eat two servings of DHA-rich fatty fish each weekiv to help ensure that you and your growing baby are getting enough of this brain-building nutrient. However, you should be cautious about choosing fish – choose fish that are low in mercury.v
  • DHA-fortified products - usually in eggs and milk
  • DHA supplements (fish or algal oil)




iColetta JM, Bell SJ, Roman AS (2010) Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy, Rev Obstet Gynecol 2010 Fall; 3(4): 163-171

iiCarlson, Susan E., (2009). Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation in pregnancy and lactation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(2): 678S–684S.

iiiImhoff-Kunsch, B. (2011, August). Marine oil supplementation in pregnancy and maternal and neonatal health outcomes. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.who.int/elena/titles/commentary/fish_oil_pregnancy/en/

ivGreenberg, J. A., Bell, S. J., & Ausdal, W. V. (2008). Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621042/

vEating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know. Retrieved 2 June 2017 from, https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish