DHA: pregnancy and the developing child

Between the two omega-3 (DHA and EPA), DHA is with no doubt the main player during pregnancy as well as during the first years of life. The demand for DHA is particularly high during the last quarter of the pregnancy which is the time when most of the DHA accumulates in the human brain, just at the time when the neuronal networks (‘like the electrical network’) are being laid and the retinal tissue is being consolidated. In the brain, 14% of the fatty acid content are omega-3 (mainly DHA) and 17% are omega-6 (mainly arachidonic acid), and both accumulate rapidly during gestation and the first year of life. It is worth highlighting that the DHA content of the grey matter in the brain is greater than 30% and that in the central area of the retina called macula, more than 50% of its fatty acid content is DHA. Therefore, DHA is an essential component for a healthy development of the nervous and visual system.

Also, it should be noted that premature infants, twins, children of vegetarian mothers, some adopted children and in general, in cases where there has been a suboptimal nutrition during the gestational period, there is a risk of DHA deficiency. In principle, this deficiency is not noticeable, since children are perfectly normal and happy. It is however during the school period (about 6 years), when learning and behavior problems can be noticed (ie. inattention, hyperactivity, lack of concentration, impaired motor skills, dyslexia etc.). Several studies suggest that a lack of DHA during pregnancy and early childhood, is a contributing factor to future cognitive and behavioral disturbances.

Some of the benefits of DHA in pregnant women and young children highlighted by some authors are:

  • Contributes to improved neurodevelopment and motor skills.
  • Improves visual acuity and the baby’s intellectual development.
  • Fewer premature births and increased fetal weight.

The EARNEST and PeriLip programs from the European Union recommend a minimum daily intake of DHA during pregnancy and lactation of 200 mg, having found that intakes of up to 1,000 mg DHA / day are safe. A suitable dose for a pregnant or lactating woman is approx. 500 mg DHA / day.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Based on the above, taking 3 softgels per week of NuaDHA 1000 (with food) would comfortably cover the minimum requirements of DHA of a pregnant women. However, considering that in the last quarter of the pregnancy the demand for DHA increases exponentially, during this period it is possible to take 1 softgel of NuaDHA 1000 per day.

Currently, there is concern regarding the safety of fish in general as well as omega 3 food supplements in pregnant women, due to the potential presence of heavy metals and other contaminants. NuaDHA 1000 gives the maximum guarantee regarding its purity and lack of pollutants through the 5 stars IFOS quality stamp. IFOS guarantees not only the amount of active substance contained per softgel, but also that contaminants such as heavy metals, PCBs and dioxins are almost absent from the product.

Buy

  • Cetin I et al., (2009) Long chain fatty acids and dietary fetal nutrition. J Physiol 587.14: 3441-3451.
  • Coletta JM et al., (2010) Omega-3 fatty acids and Pregnancy. Review in Obstetrics & Gynecology 3(4): 163-171
  • Jacques C, Levy E, Muckle G, Jacobson SW, Bastien C, Dewailly E, Ayotte P, Jacobson JL, Saint-Amour D. (2011) Long-term effects of prenatal omega-3 fatty acid intake on visual function in school-age children. J Pediatr.158(1):83-90.
  • Kim HY, Moon HS, Cao D, Lee J, Kevala K, Jun S, Lovinger D, Akbar M, Huang BX. (2011) N-Docosahexaenoylethanolamide promotes development of hippocampal neurons. Biochem J. Biochem J 435(2):327-36.
  • Koletzko B et al., (2007). Dietary fats intake for pregnant and lactating women. Consensus Statement. Br J Nutr 98: 873-877
  • Litman, B. J., et al . (2001) The role of docosahexaenoic acid containing phospholipids in modulating G protein-coupled signaling pathways : visual transduction. J. Mol. Neurosci. 16(2-3):237-242.
  • Sanhueza J, Nieto S, & Valenzuela A (2004) Ácido docosahexaenoico (DHA), desarrollo cerebral, memoria y aprendizaje: la importancia de la suplementación perinatal. Rev Chil Nutr Vol.31,No.2
  • Youdin, KA., et al., (2000) Essential fatty acids and the brain. Possible health implications. Int. J Neurosci 18: 383-399
  • Valenzuela A, Nieto S. (2003) Acidos grasos omega-6 y omega-3 en la nutrición perinatal: su importancia en el desarrollo del sistema nervioso y visual. Rev Chil Ped 74: 149-157
  • Valenzuela A, Nieto S. Acido docosahexaenoico (DHA) en el desarrollo fetal y en la nutrición materno-infantil.(2001) Rev Med Chil 129: 1203-1211.

Buy