Do Pregnant Women Need to Take DHA Supplements?

As an expectant mom, making decisions regarding the wellbeing of your baby can be daunting and overwhelming. Taking prenatal vitamins and supplements is often recommended to ensure the baby is getting the necessary nutrients. One of these nutrients is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid that has been linked to healthy development in newborns. However, some expecting mothers might struggle to decide if taking DHA during pregnancy is right for them. This blog post will discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with taking DHA during pregnancy and provide information to help pregnant women make an informed decision on whether DHA is the right choice for them.


The short answer to that question is yes. DHA is safe in prenatal vitamins. This omega-3, in our opinion, is a crucial nutrient required during pregnancy. DHA in prenatal vitamins offers numerous advantages to both you and your developing child.

Nutrient needs during pregnancy increase by a lot. In the end, it is the mother’s responsibility to ensure that she and her child receive the nutrients they need to thrive through food and prenatal vitamins. DHA is one of the many nutrients they require, but it isn’t present in all commercially available prenatal vitamins.

Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is an Omega 3 fatty acid along with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which you may be wondering what DHA stands for in prenatal vitamins. DHA and EPA, two omega-3 fatty acids, collaborate within the body to support fetal growth and development. DHA can be found in both food and prenatal vitamins.

DHA is a crucial fatty acid involved in various aspects of pregnancy. According to a 2021 article, research suggests that DHA can lower the risk of neural tube defects, preterm birth, and may even help with postpartum depression.

DHA is present in food. However, the majority of obstetricians advise pregnant women to take prenatal vitamins with folic acid and DHA.

DHA, short for docosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid that plays a key role in brain health. It’s essential throughout our lives, and especially during infancy when the brain, eyes and nervous system are developing.

That was back in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Now that the oldest study participants are seven years old, they can take an IQ test.

The researchers have checked in on the children before and observed DHA deficiency.

The test — the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, Second Edition — was administered to 259 children whose mothers took DHA during pregnancy and 284 children whose moms received the placebo. An “average” score on the test is 100; the minimum score to qualify as “gifted” is typically 130.

The study was funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council. The pills used in the trial were provided by Croda Chemicals, whose product lineup includes DHA supplements.


Omega-3 DHA is derived from a variety of sea-based foods, like fish and algae, which can give supplements with DHA a mildly fishy smell. The meat of cold-water fish, such as mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, sardines, anchovies, etc., is one of the best sources of DHA. DHA is initially created from marine microalgae, which is then consumed by phytoplankton and other marine life.

If the prenatal vitamin you choose contains choline, that could also contribute to the fishy smell. Fish may be the source of the choline used in supplements, which could impact how the final product smells.

Without DHA or Choline supplementation, prenatal multivitamin capsules might not smell fishy.


Is it too late to take DHA during pregnancy?

The good news is that mothers who consume more DHA in just the last few weeks of pregnancy give birth to babies with significantly higher DHA levels. This means that it’s never too late to increase your DHA intake.

Is it okay to take prenatal without DHA?

During pregnancy, you need DHA to help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. Not all prenatal vitamins contain DHA, so ask your provider if you need to take a DHA supplement. During pregnancy, it is recommended that women eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood low in mercury each week.

What trimester is DHA most important?

DHA is particularly important for fetal development of the brain and retina during the third trimester and up to 18 months of life.

Will my baby be OK if I didn’t take Prenatals?

If you’re not taking prenatal vitamins, neural tube defects can appear: Anencephaly: This occurs when the baby’s skull and brain doesn’t form correctly. Babies that are born with anencephaly don’t survive. Spina bifida: This occurs when the spine does not form correctly and the baby may have physical disabilities.

Dr. Rebecca Schmidt discusses prenatal vitamin use and autism risk

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