DHA (or docosahexaenoic acid) is a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid found throughout the body. Many people do not know this but it is a major structural fat found in both the brain and eye, not to mention a key component of the heart. While many people take supplements, it can be found in some foods such as fatty fish and eggs.
But why is it so important during pregnancy?
Experts say it supports optimal infant brain, eye, nervous system development, birth weight, as well as height. In fact, it is particularly crucial in the third trimester when significant brain growth occurs. According to Baby Med, it is also important for the fetus with effects lasting years after birth.
How can I get enough DHA for my baby?
As experts explain, developing infants cannot efficiently produce their own DHA and must obtain this important nutrient through the placenta during pregnancy and from breast milk after birth. Studies have shown that children who do not get enough DHA are at high risk of developing cognitive delays, while those who receive large amounts of the nutrient right from the start tend to have better attention span.
A research published by the Journal of Perinatal Medicine concluded that pregnant and nursing women need 200 mg of DHA a day. Therefore, it’s important to include it in your diet. Good dietary sources include:
- Fatty fish that are low in mercury (such as salmon, sardine, anchovies, and canned light tuna)
- Peanut butter
- Soy foods (such as tofu and soy milk)
- Fish liver oil
In conclusion, DHA is a vital nutrient for both mother and baby. But if you’re in doubt, don’t be afraid to consult your doctor!