Do you want to supplement DHA during pregnancy?

It is every parent’s wish that babies are healthy and intelligent. In recent years, many people will recommend various nutrients to pregnant women, of which DHA is the most common one. A large number of businesses have also introduced various DHA supplements and claimed that supplementing DHA during pregnancy can make babies smarter.

DHA is what? Do you want to take DHA supplements during pregnancy?

What is DHA?

DHA is a fatty acid, which can promote the health of baby’s nerve, vision and immune system.

The full name of DHA is [docosahexaenoic acid] (structural formula C22: 6,-3). The reason why DHA is paid more attention to during pregnancy is that it is very [special], not only has the longest carbon chain and the most double bonds in the molecular structure, but also has important physiological functions, which are closely related to the formation of fetal nerve development (brain) and vision (optic nerve).

DHA is one of the important components of fetal brain tissue. Infant brain contains 60% fat, of which 20% is-3 fatty acids (mainly DHA + EPA).

Studies have shown that adequate intake of DHA during pregnancy and lactation has effects on the development of baby’s nerve, vision and immune system as well as long-term cognitive ability.

Therefore, the Joint Committee of Fat Experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recommended that pregnant women should consume 300 mg of DHA + EPA per day, of which DHA should be at least 200 mg [1]; U.S. IOM recommends DHA 160 mg per day [2].

However, the latest edition of China’s Residents’ Dietary Nutrient Reference Intake (DRIs) recommends that the daily intake of DHA + EPA during pregnancy is 250 mg, of which DHA is at least 200 mg [3].

What is the DHA intake of mothers and infants in China?

The intake of DHA by pregnant women in China is insufficient and needs to be paid attention to.

2004 年一项膳食调查发现, 中国孕妇群体 DHA 平均摄入量为 11.83~55.30 mg/d, the intake in inland areas was significantly lower than that in rivers, lakes and coastal areas.[4].

The latest survey shows that the average daily intake of DHA + EPA for Chinese adults is only 37.6 mg [5], which is far lower than the above recommended amount. This shows that the intake of DHA in the population is not optimistic, and more attention should be paid to it during pregnancy.

It is also for this reason that < < Expert Consensus on DHA Supplementation for Pregnant Women and Infants in China > > [6] (hereinafter referred to as [Expert Consensus]) believes that maintaining an appropriate DHA level in the body is beneficial to improving pregnancy outcomes, early neurological and visual function development of infants, and may also be beneficial to improving postpartum depression, infant immune function and sleep patterns, etc.

Pregnant women and lactating mothers need reasonable diet to maintain DHA level so as to benefit maternal and infant health.

How to get DHA?

Choose foods with high DHA content and reasonably use DHA supplements.

The Chinese Nutrition Society suggested that pregnant women and lactating mothers should take not less than 200 mg of DHA per day and can strengthen DHA intake through diet. Which foods can provide DHA?

First of all, fish and seafood are important sources of DHA, including yellow croaker, sardine, perch, tuna, catfish, crucian carp, hairtail and other fishes, as well as shrimp, sea crab, shellfish, cuttlefish and so on. For example, 100 g hairtail and large yellow croaker contain 80 mg and 90 mg DHA respectively.

However, eating fat-rich marine fish should also consider possible pollutants. FDA recommends eating 300-400 g of fish per week during pregnancy, and should try to avoid eating fish with high mercury content, such as sharks, arrow rain, square head fish and nitrile fish.

However, DHA content in other foods is very low except fish and shrimp. Fortunately, linolenic acid in food can be partially converted into DHA in the body.

The most abundant foods containing-linolenic acid are linseed oil and perilla seed oil, the content of which is mostly 50% ~ 60%. Therefore, if you want to obtain sufficient DHA, you can appropriately add a part of linseed oil or perilla oil on the basis of diversification of edible oil during pregnancy.

However, there will always be great differences in the adjustment of dietary structure. Many people find it difficult to meet DHA intake through the adjustment of dietary structure.

Therefore, experts agree that DHA supplements can be used if the recommended intake cannot be reached after adjusting the dietary structure.

Do you want to take DHA supplements or not?

In case of insufficient food, it can be supplemented appropriately.

There are various DHA supplements on the market, such as various DHA fish oils. Do you want to eat them during pregnancy?

First of all, fish and seafood are still the best and most recommended sources of DHA. Fish and seafood not only contain DHA, but also provide high-quality micronutrients such as protein, vitamin A, iron and zinc, which are important components of the diet structure during pregnancy.

Therefore, if possible, we should try our best to obtain the required DHA through food. According to the recommendations of < < Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents > >, 50 ~ 100 g of fish and shrimps should be consumed every day in the second and second trimester of pregnancy.

However, this does not mean that DHA supplements are useless. The maximum limit of DHA intake for pregnant and lactating women is 1 g/d, and it is safer to take DHA supplements normally and reasonably.

DHA nutritional supplements contain DHA and are convenient and fast. As long as the products are qualified, there is usually no what safety risk for normal consumption. If there is not enough worry, appropriate supplement is also possible.

Moreover, whether to take DHA supplements, in fact, depends on the specific situation of the individual. In fact, for some pregnant women, eating fish may not be an easy thing, such as some pregnant vomiting reaction is more serious, others are not very fond of eating fish, really worried about not enough, DHA supplements can still be used as a simple and convenient way to obtain.

To sum up,

1. The best source of DHA is food

Including all kinds of fish and other aquatic products and flaxseed oil, etc., if conditions permit, try to meet the needs of human body for DHA through reasonable diet. In order to meet the needs of DHA during pregnancy, starting from the second trimester of pregnancy (13 weeks), pregnant women should ensure that the diet has an average of 50 ~ 100 g of fish and shrimps per day [7]. At the same time, on the basis of diversification of edible oil, some flaxseed oil or perilla oil should be selected.

2. If the food intake is insufficient, it can be supplemented in an appropriate amount through supplements.

If these measures are not in place and food alone cannot provide enough DHA, you may as well supplement reliable fish oil, seaweed oil and other supplements under the guidance of doctors or nutritionists. After all, this is a relatively convenient way to obtain, and it is also relatively safe. As long as you eat reasonably, there will be no excessive risk.