Importance Of DHA During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is said to be the most special phase in a woman’s life, after all it adds another role to play in your life, that of a mother. And you must make sure that you are eating the right amounts of all the right things to play that role.
So, have you heard of DHA? It stands for Docosahexaenoic Acid, an Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid; which needs to be a significant component of your diet during pregnancy.
Why Is DHA Important For Your Baby?
DHA helps develop the brain, the eyes and the central nervous system. A study published in the Indian Journal of Pediatrics (IJP) explains that most of your baby’s brain grows and develops during the pregnancy term, and DHA is a significant component of the brain and retina.1 Adequate levels of DHA in your prenatal diet can ensure a healthy, full-term pregnancy. If taken in the right amount, your baby’s birth size will be high as well.2 The third trimester, or the last three months of your pregnancy, is particularly important. This is when the DHA in your diet has the most significant impact on your baby’s development.3
A lot of research has focused on the children of mothers who received an adequate level of DHA during their pregnancy. The IJP study found that these children scored higher on intelligence tests and had better attention spans. At four years of age, these children showed better depth perception and stereo acuity.
How Good Is DHA For You?
DHA helps prevent premature delivery.4 Adequate DHA is also essential in your lactation phase. DHA improves brain function not just for babies, but for adults as well. It also reduces the risk of blood clots and cardiac risks. It is present and required in every cell of the body.5 The IJP study specifies that DHA boosts feel-good chemicals like serotonin, and the memory-aiding chemical, acetylcholine.
Is There Enough DHA In Your Diet?
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends in a report that pregnant mothers should have at least 200 mg of DHA in their daily diet during pregnancy.6 The amount may increase depending on medical requirements, the mother’s physiology and diet.
Getting the right amount of DHA from your daily diet is not always easy. Natural sources for this nutrient include fatty fish, fish oil, seafood, seaweed, meat, poultry, walnuts, eggs, and milk. However, doctors often advise expecting mothers to keep a check on their consumption of fish, in particular, to prevent high intake of mercury.
In this case, smart dietary modifications can ensure you get the required amount of DHA to support your pregnancy diet. A suitable example is Mother’s Horlicks, which is a nourishing beverage that provides the important nutrients a pregnant woman and her baby require, including DHA, which is essential for the development and function of a baby’s brain.
Health Drinks And Supplements
Vegetarian or not, nutritionists recommend all pregnant women to take DHA supplements.7 Mother’s Horlicks contains DHA from a vegetarian source and so is suitable for both Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian mums.
Ask your doctor for all the information you need regarding this. Stay informed and make the best of this beautiful time in your life.
The author is Neha Chandna, who is a practicing dietitian since the last 8 years. The views, opinions and recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author and intended as an educational aid. Please consult your doctor for professional advice concerning specific health/medical matters.