Why is DHA intake during pregnancy important for my developing baby
More than half of the human brain is composed of fat.
It may seem unbelievable, but the developing baby's brain size actually increases by approximately 260% during the third trimester of pregnancy.1 Studies show that large amounts of DHA accumulate in the brain from approximately 25 weeks gestation until 2 years of age.2 Although your body can make DHA from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a type of essential fatty acid (EFA), a developing baby cannot.
That's why it is crucial for you to receive a continuous direct supply of DHA throughout pregnancy, to pass on to your developing baby. This is especially critical during the third trimester, when much of the baby's neurological, visual and nervous system development occurs.
How does my developing baby get DHA from me?
DHA is transferred from your body to the developing baby across the placenta. In fact, it is transferred the fastest compared with other fatty acids.3
How do I ensure that I have enough DHA supply?
Consuming foods rich in or supplemented with DHA can significantly increase your DHA supply. Although your body can make its own DHA from ALA obtained through your diet, recent studies show that intake of ALA may not maintain or increase your DHA supply to cope with the increased demand.4,5 This is due to the poor conversion of ALA to DHA.
Because of this, it is recommended to supplement your diet with foods rich in DHA. When you receive a continuous direct supply of DHA, your developing baby is more likely to start with better DHA levels at birth.6, 7
Other important nutrients in pregnancy
Other essential nutrients needed to support your pregnancy and your developing baby's growth and development include:
Plays a role in the formation of red blood cells.
Helps to maintain the growth and development of the baby.
Is essential for growth and division of cells.
To build your developing baby's bones and teeth.
To keep your own bones strong - your body gives your developing baby the calcium that is available and takes calcium from your bones to meet your own needs. Hence, you need to replenish the lost calcium.
To make haemoglobin, a component of blood that carries oxygen to the cells of the body – for you and across the placenta for your developing baby.
To help in making the extra blood you and your developing baby need.