The central theses
- A new study suggests that pregnant people who take 1,000 mg of DHA supplements daily have a lower risk of having their baby prematurely.
- Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is a specific omega-3 fatty acid that people must get from foods or supplements.
- Taking DHA supplements can be especially helpful for low-nutrient pregnant people.
A new study shows that pregnant women with low DHA levels can reduce their risk of premature birth by consuming 1,000 milligrams (mg) of DHA-omega-3 fatty acid daily. This is well above the recommended dose of 200 mg...
“Many pregnancies would benefit from more DHA supplements than most prenatal supplements,” study author Susan E. Carlson, PhD, professor of nutrition in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center, told Verywell. “It is important that we educate women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to speak to their caregivers about the intake of DHA.”
What is DHA?
Omega-3 fatty acids are known as “healthy fats” and play an important role in human health. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is a specific omega-3 fatty acid that people need from foods or supplements because they cannot make this important nutrient in sufficient quantities.
DHA plays an important role in overall health. Especially for pregnancy, this fatty acid can support the brain and eye development of a fetus in the uterus...
The best sources of DHA omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Krill oil
- Fish oil supplements
- Algae-based dietary supplements
People can also get some DHA from nutrient-fortified foods like certain dairy products. Pregnant women are usually advised to take 200 mg DHA daily to ensure adequate intake of this key fatty acid.
While foods like walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, they don’t contain DHA. Rather, they contain ALA, a fatty acid that does not provide the same benefit to the fetus.
DHA levels are not routinely assessed. However, since 80% of Americans don’t eat the recommended amounts of seafood,.It is safe to say that many people are unlikely to have adequate nutrient levels.
DHA helps reduce the risk of premature birth
Premature birth means that a baby is born before the due date – especially before the 34th week of pregnancy. Not only can this result in a smaller baby, but it also puts the baby at risk of having problems with their eyes, lungs, brain, and other organs...
While there are many factors that can contribute to premature birth, research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of premature birth..However, the exact dose needed to achieve a beneficial effect is not confirmed.
To make more specific recommendations, the researchers decided to evaluate whether a 1,000 mg dose of DHA would help. Eleven hundred pregnant people received either 1,000 mg additional DHA or 200 mg of the same fatty acid.
The researchers found that the higher dose of DHA supplementation, especially if the subject had low DHA levels at the start of the study, resulted in fewer premature births than those who took just 200 mg. These results were published in the journal EClinicalMedicine in May.
They also found that:
- Pregnant women with low DHA status at the start of the study who received a DHA supplement of 1,000 mg experienced half the premature birth rate (2% of births) compared to those who received 200 mg of DHA (4%).
- Of the pregnant people who had high DHA status at the start of the study, the premature birth rate was 1.3%. This group got no greater benefit when they received a 1,000 mg per day supplement.
Ryan Kipping, RDN, CLEC, a prenatal registered nutritionist and owner of The Prenatal Nutritionist, said DHA “not only reduced the risk of premature birth, but also reduced other adverse effects, such as intensive care visits or postpartum feeding problems.”
“We know that molecules that dissolve inflammation are made from DHA,” adds Carlson. “Although the mechanisms that lead to premature birth are unknown, an attractive hypothesis is that these molecules may be involved in preventing some premature births.”
What this means for you
If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about your DHA levels. When they are low, daily supplementation with the fatty acid can help reduce the risk of premature delivery.
What can you do besides supplementing with DHA?
There are some causes of premature birth that are completely beyond a person’s control, such as: B. a certain age or a family history of premature births. However, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk.
During your pregnancy you can:
- Avoid recreational drugs
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Coping with stress
And as this May study points out, taking a daily DHA supplement at a dose of 1,000 mg per day can also help reduce your risk, especially if you are lacking this important nutrient.
Kipping warns that there are some risks associated with taking DHA, such as low blood pressure, too much vitamin A (retinol), acid reflux, insomnia, and risk of bleeding. If you do decide to include this amount of DHA in your supplemental routine, the first thing you should see is your doctor.