You might have heard that DHA is great for you during pregnancy, but do you know why exactly? Let’s back up with the basics. First, DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid. The three most abundant types of omega-3 fatty acids include: DHA, EPA and ALA. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential and play important roles in bodily processes including reducing inflammation, improving heart health and brain function. Serious responsibilities.
During pregnancy, the need for DHA is even higher. And it’s just as important to ensure you're getting your omega EPAs, too. Omega EPA helps DHA cross the placenta during pregnancy. Translation: It’s the most absorbable format. Together, they have some incredible benefits. According to Perelel’s Medical Co-Founder, Banafsheh Bayati, MD, OB/GYN, FACOG:
“Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for fetal brain, eye and nervous system development as well as providing anti-inflammatory and tissue protective benefits. Omega-3’s continue to support brain development and immune function for the infant postpartum. Studies also show that omega-3’s support a healthy birth weight, gestational length, as well as improve attention and focus in infants and children, and decreased incidence of allergies in infants. They also support the mother’s heart, brain and cognitive function, joint mobility, eye health, skin and hair as well as immune response and mood postpartum.”
So it’s clear, DHA is important. To guide us towards the foods with the most DHA available, we checked in with Stephanie Lauri, a dietician specializing in pre and postnatal nutrition and Certified Lactation Educator.
“Not only do fish and seafood provide Omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA for healthy brain and eye development, they are great sources of protein, contain more vitamin B12 and vitamin D than any other type of food, and provide iron and other minerals like selenium, zinc, and iodine, all which are required to support baby's nervous system, thyroid, brain, immune system, and overall development,” says Lauri.
Read on below for her list of the top 13 DHA-packed foods to eat.
Perelel Tip: Whether farmed or wild, 6 ounces per week would provide the recommended DHA in pregnancy.
- Canned Sardines
Perelel Tip: Avoid King Mackerel due to the high mercury content. Limit Spanish Mackerel to one serving per week.
- Freshwater Trout
Perelel Tip: Enjoy when cooked during pregnancy.
- Sea Bass
- Cooked Shrimp
Canned Light Tuna
Perelel Tip: Canned tuna light, or Skipjack, is lower in Mercury than albacore. Limit albacore to 4 oz per week.
Perelel Tip: Certain brands of eggs are fortified with DHA.
While eating DHA-packed foods is smart during pregnancy, it’s also wise to supplement. Each Perelel daily vitamin pack includes an omega DHA + EPA so you’re getting the most potent and bioavailable format. This winning combination of DHA and EPA is one of Perelel’s biggest differentiators in our science-backed formulations.
Written by Jessica Lopez. Jessica Lopez is a freelance writer, digital content creator, and new mother. She has covered all lifestyle topics ranging from bridal to beauty for publications including Brides Magazine, Byrdie, THE/THIRTY, and more. Walking wide-eyed into motherhood has inspired her to connect with other parents through her writing and shared experience. You can follow more of her journey @Jessica.H.Lopez.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.