When Should Pregnant DHA Be Supplemented? What Is The Effect?

When Should Pregnant DHA Be Supplemented? What Is The Effect?

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1. The Role Of DHA In The Body

DHA is a form of unsaturated fatty acid in the Omega-3 group. This is a nutrient that plays an important role in eye formation and brain organization of the fetus from the time it is in the mother's womb until the first 2 years of life.
Right from the first weeks in the mother's womb, the fetus's brain begins to take its first steps in development. From the 13th to 24th week of pregnancy, the baby has developed hearing and vision, begins to hear the voices of people around him, sounds from life, receives information and senses light. from the outside.

DHA Is Critical For Infants (Brain Health And Growth)

DHA participates in the eye formation process and structures the child's brain.

Near the due date, the fetus's brain reaches 25% of the size of an adult. Scientists point out that DHA accounts for a large amount of brain tissue, typically the retina of the eye. Therefore, if the body is deficient in DHA, it will directly affect the function and structure of these organs.

2. What Is The Need For DHA Among Pregnant Women?

Before pregnancy and during pregnancy, diet is very important for both mother and fetus. This includes the need to store unsaturated fatty acids, which are essential for the baby. In the last 3 months of pregnancy, on average the fetus will need to be provided with about 2.2g EFAs/day to nourish blood vessels and the nervous system.

According to information from WHO, pregnant women, depending on pregnancy development milestones, need an average daily supplement of 100 - 200 mg/day of DHA. Specifically as follows:
* In the first trimester (first 3 months): pregnant mothers need to supplement adequate nutrients from daily food. This helps minimize the risk of miscarriage, supporting the fetus to have the best development steps right from the first months of life in the mother's womb;
* In the second trimester (the second 3 months): at this time pregnant women need to actively supplement more DHA because the baby's brain develops very quickly and strongly, forming more than 250,000 nerve cells every minute. In addition, DHA also helps increase the fluidity of cell membranes, promoting the speed of information exchange between nerve cells and the exchange of nutrients;
* In the third trimester (last 3 months): the fetus develops rapidly in brain size and body weight. At this time, your baby needs a lot of fatty acids to help develop blood vessels and the nervous system. Therefore, the need for DHA in this period is relatively high because DHA helps reduce the risk of preeclampsia, premature birth, and supports the fetus to develop well right from the first postnatal period of life through breast milk.

DHA During Pregnancy: How Importance of DHA in Pregnancy | Horlicks |  Unilever

The pregnant mother's need for DHA during pregnancy is very high.

3. Consequences When The Pregnant Mother Has a DHA Deficiency

For pregnant women, serious DHA deficiency will negatively affect the health of both the baby and mother. Pregnant mothers are at risk of preeclampsia and premature birth. In the postpartum period, mothers will face other problems such as osteoporosis, postpartum depression or cardiovascular diseases in the future.

Because the mother's body is deficient in DHA, the fetus will have a decrease in both quantity and quality of red blood cells. Besides, children will suffer from oxygen deficiency, affecting the development of the retina, central nervous system, reduced intelligence, slow brain development, and will later limit their learning ability compared to their peers. Peers are fully supplemented with DHA.

4. Ways To Help Supplement DHA

The human body is not capable of producing the necessary amount of DHA. Therefore, pregnant mothers need to supplement this nutrient from the outside through foods rich in DHA. Specifically:

* Egg yolks: this is a rich source of DHA. However, mothers should cook the egg yolks completely before eating. Avoid eating eggs when they are still raw, soft-shelled or whipped because it will reduce the value of the nutritional ingredients in the eggs;
* Sea fish: saltwater fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna,... are also foods that contain a lot of DHA, which helps increase children's intelligence. Ocean fish often contain a lot of mercury and heavy metals, so pregnant women should only eat fish in moderation (limit 300 grams/week);
* Cereals: some types of nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews,... processed (no salt added) are a quality snack, suitable for most pregnant mothers because they often contain a lot of DHA. However, mothers should not eat peanuts because they easily cause allergies;
* Green vegetables: vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, watercress, kale,... are also a rich source of DHA and help mothers limit constipation during pregnancy.

The benefits of omega-3 fats | Heart and Stroke Foundation

DHA is present in many foods around us.

Besides the foods mentioned above, pregnant mothers can supplement DHA through milks specifically for pregnant mothers or functional foods (DHA pills, vitamins). contains DHA) with necessary levels for pregnant women. However, to use these products, pregnant women need to be consulted by obstetricians and nutritionists to understand the basic DHA needs of pregnant women.