DHA: Omega-3s and Pregnancy

Image: Mom's hands shaped in a heart on her pregnant belly

Moms-to-be want to be sure to consume all the nutrients needed to support their own health and that of their developing little one. Experts agree that one of the most important nutrients for pregnant or nursing moms is Omega-3 fatty acids. The American Pregnancy Association currently recommends that women consume 500-1000mg of Omega-3s every day, with at least 300mg of that being DHA [1]. Others, like the Japanese Ministry of Health, recommend 1900 mg of total Omega-3 daily [2]!

Why Do You Need Omega-3s While Pregnant?

Why do pregnant women need Omega-3s? They benefit both the growing baby and the mother! These essential fatty acids are crucial for the proper development of the brain and eyes while in the womb. Studies have shown that children whose mothers did not have an adequate intake of seafood during pregnancy were more likely to have behavioral problems, lower testing for verbal and performance IQ, and poor scores for early development tests of communication and fine motor skills than those who had an adequate intake [3]. As for the mother, lower seafood intake has shown to have a correlation with depressive symptoms during pregnancy. Up to 20% of perinatal women are affected by major depressive disorder; pregnancy-related depression has been shown to have an effect on cognitive development and child attachment [3].

Babies need Omega-3s present as they grow within their moms, and after birth they need a good supply from their mother's breast milk [4]. There's a reason why most baby formulas now contain and emphasize DHA! In fact, we all need Omega-3s during every stage of life. Omega-3s are, as they say, essential. Read more on that in some of our other blog posts.

The good news is, several great options exist for pregnant women to help them get their daily Omega-3s!

Fish Oil For Pregnant Women

Fish oil is a standard, proven way to boost your Omega-3 levels. You've likely been told to avoid eating fish while pregnant due to concerns with mercury, however, there are many varieties of fish that are low in mercury. Even better, Barlean's Fresh Catch® Fish Oil is ultra-purified to remove heavy metals and toxins and then tested by an independent third party to ensure the best quality. Our fish oil is available in liquid or softgel form, and even some delicious, creamy emulsifications that are easy on the tummy! Try Barlean’s Seriously Delicious Mango Peach fish oil, for instance. You can take it right off the spoon with no fishy taste or queasiness — it’s super easy to digest and you absorb even more Omega-3s when they're in this emulsified form. Of course, we always recommend that if you decide to supplement with any nutrient, it’s best to check in with your doctor at your next visit to get their approval so you can feel safe and comfortable! Do you need to “double up” since you are supplementing for two? Nope, just take the recommended amount on the label (or as recommended by your health care provider) and do it faithfully every day!

Vegan Omega-3 Options

Organic flax seed oil is a great solution for moms who want a vegan Omega-3 supplement. With 7,700 mg of ALA (a form of Omega-3) in each tablespoon, your body will begin to convert some of the ALA into EPA and then to DHA. Adding a spoonful of our pure, organic flax oil to a smoothie, yogurt or even oatmeal, daily, is simple and provides great nutrition. Ground flax seeds and chia seeds supply about 3,000 mg of ALA per serving. Both are clean, organic, vegan sources of Omega-3s.

Wishing for a vegan delicious, creamy alternative like the one mentioned earlier? We didn't forget about you! Try our Strawberry Banana Smoothie or Pomegranate Blueberry Smoothie flax oil emulsifications!

While some prenatal multivitamins have Omegas included, many don't and many of the ones that do, only have around 300-400mg. Compare that to the 1,080mg in our standard fish oil emulsion and the 1,300mg in our Ultra EPA/DHA fish oil softgels, and you've got a clear winner!



[1] Pregnancy and Fish Oils - Good For Mom & Better For Baby. Fleur, Women's Health. https://fleurhealth.com/blog/pregnancy-and-fish-oils-good-for-mom-better-for-baby/

[2] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan (2010). Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese. Daiichi Shuppan Publishing Co., Ltd., Tokyo, 2009

[3] Coletta, J. MD, Bell, S. RD, Roman, A. MD (2010). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Pregnancy. National Center For Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046737/

[4] Johnston M., Landers S., Noble L., Szucs K., and Viehmann L for the Section on Breastfeeding (2012). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics 129:e827-e841.