“Is there anything I’m missing or not getting enough of in my diet?” I’m often asked this question in my medical practice by patients who are pregnant. And understandably so…It’s natural for a pregnant woman to want the best prenatal nutrition to set the stage for a healthy baby. Most women already know about the importance of taking a prenatal multi-vitamin, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. But, not everyone knows that it’s equally as important to get enough of the omega-3 essential fatty acid, DHA.
Why is DHA so crucial? DHA makes up about 20 percent of the human brain and nervous system, and even though it’s key to helping us function, our bodies don’t naturally make it. As a result, we need to get DHA through our diet, or through supplementation. This is especially important for pregnant and lactating women, and for growing babies, who need more DHA than most of us are able to eat in one day.
The health benefits of DHA are many, but in a pregnant women and a developing baby, this essential fat is of critical importance. A women’s demand for DHA increases during pregnancy because the developing fetus requires DHA for proper brain and nervous system function, as well as eye health. And, studies have shown that moms who take fish oil during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to full term babies, and their babies are more likely to have healthier birth weights.
So how can you make sure you are getting enough? International recommendations suggest that pregnant and nursing women consume 300-600mg of DHA every day to ensure that moms and babies remain healthy and strong. During pregnancy and beyond, it is critical to find a fish oil product that uses the highest quality raw material, and uses molecular distillation to remove any potential impurities (heavy metals and pesticides) down to parts per trillion levels. And, equally important is to ensure that the fish oil product is in the triglyceride form of DHA and EPA, which is how these fats exists in nature.
Keri Marshall bio:
Keri Marshall MS, ND, is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in pediatrics, women’s medicine, chronic disease management, and integrative health.