One of the most important aspects of pregnancy is a nutritious diet. However, it has been observed that an everyday diet during pregnancy does not have to be significantly different from diet before pregnancy, and the general rule of healthy eating remains – eat a balanced diet.
While all nutrients are equally important to expectant mothers, folic acid, iron, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, and omega-3 DHA are critical to the baby’s overall development as well as a healthy pregnancy, says Manu Sharma, neonatologist / pediatrician, Max Healthcare .
“However, omega-3 DHA is not always found in regular prenatal supplements, so many women have questions about the importance of DHA during pregnancy,” he adds.
Expectant mothers should read on from the expert for more details:
What is DHA?
DHA or docosahexaenoic acid is an essential omega-3 fatty acid that is not synthesized by our body and must be obtained from a diet rich in seafood such as salmon, tuna and anchovy or from dietary supplements. However, it is usually not obtained in sufficient quantities from daily food intake if you are vegetarian.
A human baby’s brain develops rapidly, especially during the third trimester in the womb through the baby’s first two years of life. DHA is considered the building block of your baby’s brain because it makes up 97 percent of the omega-3 fatty acids found in the brain and 25 percent of the brain’s total fat content. Because DHA is found in significant amounts in the brain and retina, it supports the baby’s brain and eye development, as well as the central nervous system.
In fact, DHA is not only necessary for babies, but also for mothers. Optimal DHA levels during pregnancy support full pregnancy and a healthy birth weight. DHA has also been shown to reduce the risk of preeclampsia and support the mother’s healthy mood after childbirth.
What is the ideal amount of daily DHA intake?
The recommended dose of DHA during pregnancy is around 200 mg per day. However, DHA deficiency is particularly noted in pregnant women in India due to a predominantly vegetarian diet. Hence, it is important that you know your DHA levels and change your diet or add supplements based on the results. A home blood test can help assess and monitor your DHA levels without getting off during this pandemic.
DHA in breast milk
Breast milk is an important source of nutrition for newborns. DHA, which is naturally found in breast milk, supports your baby’s cognitive function and has a positive influence on the baby’s eyesight. For breastfed babies, the recommended amount of DHA is 0.32 to 0.35 percent of milk fat. However, since the amount of DHA in breast milk is determined by the mother’s dietary intake of DHA, the rate of absorption inevitably varies depending on the mother’s eating habits.
Therefore, breast milk testing is a definite way to check your DHA levels and provide your baby with the proper nutrition for optimal growth.
How do you ensure adequate DHA consumption?
You can find out your DHA levels in blood and breast milk during pregnancy or breastfeeding with the right and convenient home diagnostic equipment. Based on the results, you can adjust your diet and consume foods rich in DHA for optimal development and health of your baby!
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