Why is DHA important during development?**
There’s never been a more important time to help make sure your body is working at its best as when trying to conceive and during pregnancy. We all need to consume essential fatty acids, but research has shown that particular omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are important during pregnancy as they contribute to normal development of the eye and brain of the foetus.** Maintaining adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids during the last trimester and during breastfeeding is particularly important as this when the brain’s growth is most rapid.
Brain development 2
DHA and brain development**
Conception through to 24 months of age are a critical period for nutrition and brain development.2 Development is dependent on specific nutrients at specific times, which makes nutrition the most influential non-genetic factor of brain development.2
Among these nutrients, Omega-3s, especially DHA. However, the DHA requirement for a foetus is not met through most Western diets. It’s important to ensure a diet rich in DHA (i.e. high in fish!) especially through the last trimester of pregnancy.
Fast facts about DHA and brain development
DHA is concentrated in the central nervous system where it is the primary fatty acid in the brain.2
DHA is at its highest in the system during the last trimester of pregnancy (during the time of foetal brain growth spurt).2
If you don't think you are consuming the recommended amount of fish during your pregnancy, and therefore not getting enough DHA, consider taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement.
**DHA maternal intake contributes to normal development of the brain and eye of the foetus and breastfed infants. A daily intake of 200mg DHA is required in addition to the recommended daily intake of 250mg DHA & EPA for adults.
- McNamara et al. World J Psychiatr 2015 March 22; 5(1): 15-34.
- Gould JF, et al. BMJ Open 2018;8:e020043. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020043
- USA Food and Drug Administration. Advice About Eating Fish. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm536321.pdf. Accessed October 2018.