April 24, 2015 | Michael C. Bartfield, M.D., F.A.C.OG.
Over the past several years, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has become a standard nutrient in the majority of prenatal vitamins.
DHA is an omega-3 essential fatty acid (EFA). Although EFAs are important in promoting overall health, they are not produced by the body, and therefore must be consumed though diet and/or supplementation. DHA, along with another omega-3, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), act as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body, counterbalancing the effects of Omega-6 series. In the United States, omega-6 fatty acid consumption far outweighs that of omega-3, leading to increased risks of diseases such as hypertension, arthritis, atherosclerosis, depression, adult-onset diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, thrombosis, and some cancers. A more balanced diet including DHA may lead to decreased risk for adults.
At preconception planning and initial pregnancy visits, I always have a discussion with my patients regarding adequate diet and make a recommendation for them to take a quality prenatal vitamin, one that includes DHA. There are decades of research that have debated DHA’s influence on many things including a newborn’s IQ, motor development, coordination, and eyesight. One thing that is not debated is that DHA is a main building block for a growing baby’s or infant’s brain and nervous system, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy and during the first several years of life. If mom’s diet and supplementation are deficient, her baby may have a deficiency as well.
I highly recommend that my pregnant and non-pregnant patients seek out foods and supplements with DHA to ensure an adequate daily amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
The views expressed herein are solely the views of Dr. Michael C. Bartfield and do not necessarily reflect the views of TherapeuticsMD, Inc. or any of its affiliates. This information is for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider for medical advice.