What Are DHA Prenatal Vitamins Taken For?

by Theresa Rosenthal

About Theresa Rosenthal

Theresa Rosenthal has been freelance writing for over 10 years on the subjects of health, frugal living, cooking and family. Her work has appeared on various websites. She has her Master of Arts in holistic health education, nutrition from John F. Kennedy University and has been a practicing holistic nutrition and wellness coach since 2008.


Pregnant moms take DHA prenatal vitamins for both themselves and their babies. If you are pregnant or nursing, consider taking a DHA prenatal vitamin to improve the development of your baby’s brain, central nervous system, eyesight and sensory system. DHA supplements will also benefit your own central nervous system and brain health. DHA is most often found in fish and fish oil supplements, but vegans and vegetarians can take prenatal supplements containing algae-derived DHA instead.

What is DHA?

DHA is docosahexaenoic acid, a brain-building, omega-3 fatty acid. There are several types of omega-3 fatty acids, but DHA is one of the most important, according to the American Pregnancy Association. The typical American diet is very low in these healthy fats, which is why they are often included in prenatal supplements. Pregnant women can very easily become depleted in omega-3's because babies use their mother's DHA for development.

DHA Prenatal Vitamins for Baby

Because many women do not consume enough omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, DHA prenatal vitamins are recommended to ensure proper development of your baby's brain, nervous system and eyesight. In the womb, your baby’s brain will be growing faster than any other time in his life. After birth, your baby’s brain will triple in size in his first year, so continue to take DHA prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding. A deficiency in DHA may lead to your baby having diminished visual acuity and slowed brain development, according to AskDrSears.com.

DHA Prenatal Vitamins for Mom

As a pregnant mom, DHA prenatal vitamins can also benefit you. Women who took DHA prenatal supplements during pregnancy were less likely to experience post-partum depression and mood changes, states BabyCenter.com. Moms who had sufficient amounts of DHA also recovered more quickly after pregnancy. Even though your brain isn’t developing like your baby’s, it still needs healthy fats to keep it functioning well. AskDrSears.com also reports that cultures with high dietary intake of DHA, like the Eskimos, have a lower incidence of multiple sclerosis and other central nervous system degenerative disorders.

Recommended Dosage

You can take 200 to 300 mg of DHA prenatal vitamin supplements each day while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. DHA occurs naturally in tuna, salmon, trout and sardines. Fish low in mercury that you can consume for DHA include shrimp, calamari, scallops, flounder, tilapia and Pollock. DHA is also found in fish oil supplements and DHA derived from algae.

Photo Credits:

  • Pregnant woman Illustration image by Leo Blanchette from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.