Dear Moms (and mommas-to-be),
You probably already know how essential fatty acids and omega 3s are for your bub’s brain development and overall health and well-being.
Your body doesn’t produce a particular fatty acid called ‘docosahexaenoic acid’ (also known as ‘DHA’) so it must be consumed through diet or DHA supplements.
Your baby’s brain is developed mostly from the age of 0–6. During this time, DHA is used to develop his/her eyes, brain, and immune system.
Without enough DHA, studies have shown it can lead to poor infant and child visual and neural development. This is why it’s so important to get the best DHA supplement for pregnancy.
We’ve rounded up the highest quality prenatal DHA supplements for you. You can discover right here which prenatal omega 3 supplements are best and which ones to avoid.
Rest easy, knowing you have the safest, top-notch product to give you and your baby the best start in life.
Comparison of the 4 Best DHA Supplements
Multivitamin that contains 12 traceable ingredients including omega-3 DHA sourced from algae.
This supplement contains a 3:1 ratio of DHA to EPA.
This supplement contains a 2:1 ratio of EPA to DHA.
This supplement is sourced from sustainable Antarctic krill oil.
Essential Prenatal by Ritual is a DHA-containing multivitamin that provides women with the nutritional support they need throughout all stages of their pregnancy, for both their baby and themselves.
This multivitamin comes packed with 12 traceable ingredients that supply key nutrients required for neural tube support, fetal brain development, blood cell formation, and proper bone health.
Major ingredients in this product include:
- Algae-derived DHA
- Nature-identical choline
- Vitamin D3 from wild-harvested lichen
- Gentle chelated iron
- Methylated folate
Ritual provides women with the best DHA for pregnancy due to it being sourced naturally from sustainably-grown, whole microalgae using an environmentally-friendly extraction process that’s free from toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, and other environmental contaminants found in most DHA supplement brands.
Essential Prenatal comes in delayed-release capsule form and is enhanced with lemon to ease digestion. Additionally, this product contains highly bioavailable forms of essential vitamins and minerals and provides women with 350 mg of omega-3 DHA sourced from algae.
Women should take 2 capsules daily and it is recommended to start taking this prenatal multivitamin at least three months before conception.[/cmsmasters_text]
|12 traceable nutrients||Does not contain calcium, vitamin C, copper, or selenium|
|100% vegan-friendly||Does not contain EPA|
|Contains 350mg of DHA||Some women may require higher dosage of DHA|
PeaPod Omega-3 by Fairhaven Health contains a 3:1 ratio of DHA to EPA to provide women with full-range omega-3 fatty acid support required for overall wellness during pregnancy, fetal development, and infant health.
This product is sustainably sourced from herring, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies caught in Iceland and is naturally flavored with citrus to aid digestion.
Each serving of PeaPod Omega-3 contains the following major nutrients in easy-to-swallow softgel form:
1000mg+ of total omega-3 fatty acids
675 mg of DHA
225 mg of EPA
It is recommended for women to take 3 capsules daily, or as directed by a healthcare professional.
|Contains DHA + EPA||Gelatin capsule is not vegetarian|
|Sourced from Iceland using sustainable fishing practices||3 capsules per serving|
|Natural citrus flavor||Doesn’t list the specific concentration of each type of fish|
Optima Omega-3 + by Nuzena provides women with a 2:1 ratio of EPA to DHA that effectively combats inflammation and provides support for healthy bones, joints, and skin.
Throughout pregnancy, many women may suffer from inflammation due to preexisting health conditions, major lifestyle changes, or certain dietary modifications. In order to ensure they have the healthiest and safest pregnancy possible, women should use omega-3 fatty acids to reduce bodily inflammation.
It’s been shown that women who supplement with EPA and DHA as a part of their prenatal health regimen lower their risk of having preterm birth and preeclampsia. Additionally, the use of omega-3 fats helps promote long-term cognitive abilities and leads to a healthier birth-weight.
Each serving of Optima Omega-3 + provides women with 432mg of EPA and 288mg of DHA. It is recommended for women to take 2 capsules daily, ideally one capsule mid-day and one capsule in the evening.
|Contains both EPA and DHA||Some women may need more than 2 capsules daily for adequate prenatal DHA dosage|
|Contained in veggie capsules (pescatarian-friendly)||Company does not disclose where fish oil is sourced from|
|Natural lemon flavor for better digestion||EPA-DHA ratio is geared more towards general inflammation than prenatal health|
Krill MD by 1MD is a clinical-strength Omega-3 supplement that’s sourced from sustainable Antarctic krill oil that’s free of heavy metals and common environmental contaminants.
This potent prenatal supplement provides women with both EPA and DHA for full-range health benefits and also includes astaxanthin and krill phospholipids for enhanced absorption.
Each serving of Krill MD provides women with:
- 120mg of DHA
- 174mg of EPA
- 2mg of Astaxanthin
This formula has been proven to be twice as effective as standard fish oil in increasing omega-3 levels within the blood and provides greater long-term support for the heart, brain, and joints.
Additionally, Krills MD contains a higher concentration of the naturally occurring carotenoid astaxanthin than competing krill oil brands for superior immune and cellular support.
It is recommended for women to take 2 softgels daily, or as recommended by a healthcare professional.
|Contains both EPA + DHA||Contained in gelatin capsule (not pescatarian-friendly)|
|Sustainably sourced from pure, Antarctic krill oil||Some women may require higher DHA dosage for prenatal benefits|
|Enhanced with astaxanthin and krill phospholipids||Combined DHA + EPA is only slightly above standard recommendations for prenatal health|
What is DHA for Pregnancy?
DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. DHAs are long-chain fatty acids.
It’s a fancy way of saying omega-3s. There are three different types of omega-3s: ALA, EPA, and DHA.
ALA Alpha-linolenic acid: Found in plant foods, seeds and oils. Most common omega-3 fatty acid in your diet. Needs to be converted into EPA or DHA before the body can use it effectively. EPA Eicosapentaenoic acid: Marine-sourced omega-3s. Found in herring, salmon, eel, shrimp, and sturgeon. Interesting to note: Grass-fed animal products, such as dairy and meats, also contain some EPA.
DHA docosahexaenoic acid: Marine-sourced omega-3s
Your body doesn’t produce omega-3s so it’s vital that you consume enough through your diet.
DHA is important because it’s essential for the growth and functional development of the brain of your baby. Deficiencies of DHA are associated with deficits in learning.
During the last 50 years, many infants have been fed formula diets lacking DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids.
It is associated with foetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cystic fibrosis, phenylketonuria, unipolar depression, aggressive hostility, and adrenoleukodystrophy.[*]
How Much DHA for Pregnancy?
You need enough prenatal omega 3 supplements to deliver 200mh of DHA daily.
Pregnant and lactating women should aim to achieve an average daily intake of at least 200 mg DHA.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that supplements containing DHA are safe if doses don’t exceed 3,000 mg per day.
DHAs are essential when you’re pregnant because they are vital for creating your baby’s healthy immune system.
DHAs are also important because they help develop your baby’s eyes, nervous system, brain, and attention and focus later in life.
And they help you (their mama) to feel good. We all want that, right?
Basically, if you want a smart, healthy kid, you need to be taking DHAs.
The old thinking was that you could get enough from oils like flaxseed and a tablespoon of cod liver oil and a healthy diet. That might not be the case anymore.
New studies from to the American Pregnancy Association have shown that most American women are actually drastically deficient in DHAs.
In fact, US women have the lowest intake of omega-3s of any developed country in the world.
The best prenatal DHA is the one that provides the essential nutrients without a fishy flavor and no nasty burping.
Consider what’s already in your cupboard. If you have a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin, have a quick look at the ingredients. Make sure you have the recommended amount of DHA. If not, it’s probably worth looking into getting a specific prenatal DHA supplement.
EPA DHA Ratio
You may have noticed that some products have a higher ratio of DHA to EPA, or vice versa. Although both omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely essential to prenatal health, they each possess their own specific health benefits.
DHA is best known for its role in cognitive health as well as promoting fetal brain development and vision whereas EPA is mostly recognized for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Both can be taken by women for prenatal health but women should look for the correct ratio of each fat source within the products they choose in order to best supplement their health needs.
Women who are in their 3rd trimester would best benefit from the use of a supplement containing a higher DHA to EPA ratio in order to ensure that their baby’s brain and eyes develop properly as well as to improve the long-term cognitive abilities of their child.
Women who are earlier on in their pregnancy or who are trying to conceive that are affected by inflammation related to prior health conditions or recent lifestyle and dietary modifications would benefit the most from using a supplement that contains a higher EPA to DHA ratio.
Some women who are pregnant follow a plant-based diet or may prefer to consume DHA from non-fish sources. Thankfully, there’s an alternative option for DHA that’s 100% vegan-friendly – algae!
Several companies, such as Ritual, source their DHA from microalgae. The use of algae offers women a cruelty-free option for consuming omega-3 fatty acids that’s free of contaminants and doesn’t leave a fishy aftertaste.
Ritual’s supplier, Algarithm, uses a proprietary water-based extraction process that involves food-grade enzymes to harvest Omega-3 DHA. This process is a much cleaner and safer method for harvesting when compared to the standard manufacturing processes used by most other companies when producing omega-3 supplements.
Should I Take DHA While Pregnant?
Yes, it is completely safe to consume DHAs when you’re pregnant. This is because of the advanced manufacturing processes available today.
A high-quality supplement will give you all the health benefits without the risk of toxicity from environmental toxins like mercury.
Best Time to Take Prenatal Vitamins
You should consider taking DHA before you’re pregnant because once you’re pregnant the fetus will deplete your supplies.
Start taking DHAs six months prior to conception to build up these important and essential fats. Also consider that multiple pregnancies, especially those that are close together, can deplete your store of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA in particular.
You can get omega-3 fatty acids naturally from the following foods:
High amounts: Cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines
Lower amounts: Bass, tilapia, cod, and shellfish
Some foods, such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, and soy beverages are fortified with DHA and other omega-3s.
Flaxseed (linseed), soybean, and canola oils, chia seeds and walnuts all contain ALA.
Plant-based sources of omega-3s from algal oil usually provide around 100–300 mg DHA; some contain EPA as well.
DHA for Pregnancy
To give your bub a winning start in life, it’s essential you get the best DHA supplement for pregnancy. By not taking this supplement, you are opening yourself up to the risk of a baby with possible DHA deficiencies.
DHA deficiencies are associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cystic fibrosis, phenylketonuria, unipolar depression, aggressive hostility, and adrenoleukodystrophy.
You can tell a good-quality DHA supplement by the type of manufacturing and the source of the product. Look for cold, deep-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.
All of the above prenatal DHA supplements are affordable, highly potent and effective, and contain the fatty acids required by both you and your baby.