the science of nutrition

How much DHA do you need during pregnancy?

Paula James-Martinez

How much DHA do you need during pregnancy?

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • There are Three Main Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • How To Get Enough DHA During Pregnancy
  • The Bottom Line

0 min read


DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are essential for various bodily functions and overall health. These fats are considered "essential" because the human body cannot produce them on its own, so they must be obtained through diet and/or supplementation.

A research article published in BMJ Open found that over 2/3 of US adults and 95% of US children do not currently consume enough Omega-3s in their daily diet to meet their nutritional needs based on the US Dietary Guidelines.


There are Three Main Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): ALA is found in plant-based sources such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and vegetable oils (like flaxseed oil and canola oil). It is converted into the active forms of omega-3s, EPA and DHA, in the body, but this conversion is not very efficient.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): EPA is primarily found in marine sources, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. It plays a role in supporting a healthy inflammatory response and has cardiovascular benefits.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Like EPA, DHA is found in fatty fish and seafood. It is a crucial component of cell membranes, particularly in the brain and eyes. DHA is important for brain development and function, especially during pregnancy and early childhood.

Our Needed Omega-3 contains high potency, clean, and sustainable DHA+EPA from fish oil in gelatin-free softgels. 


Needed Facts About Omega-3

  • 95% of women are deficient in Omega-3, a nutrient essential for a healthy pregnancy and fetal development.
  • Omega-3s are crucial for the healthy neurological and visual development of a baby. Mothers’ deficiency from low intakes is compounded by increased demand from the fetus, meaning pregnant women often have a very high unmet need of DHA and EPA. 
  • Postnatal depletion in Omega-3 is common and impactful for both mom and baby. 
  • Omega-3 is also essential to male fertility and to supporting optimal brain and heart health, hormone balance, and more for women who are no longer in the perinatal stage.


How To Get Enough DHA During Pregnancy

Most research recommends a minimum dosage of 500mg of DHA + EPA daily. 

At Needed, we go beyond bare minimums. Our Omega-3 contains 1000mg DHA+ 1000mg EPA for optimal support.  Using clean and concentrated fish oil, our Omega-3 delivers a high dose of omega-3 in an easy-to-take softgel. 

Dietary sources of DHA include salmon, herring, sardines, herring, mackerel, fortified eggs, and some types of algae (seaweed, nori). It is advised to avoid high-mercury fish like king mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish during pregnancy. 

The Bottom Line

Including a DHA supplement is both safe and beneficial during pregnancy. Omega-3s support optimal brain, nerve, and eye health in both moms and babies. It’s also an essential nutrient for egg quality and sperm health in the preconception period. 

Most Americans are not getting enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids, If you're not regularly consuming fatty fish at least three times per week, as well as a well-rounded intake through fatty fish and DHA-fortified foods.consider adding in an Omega-3 supplement."

Always consult with your healthcare provider to tailor your supplement plan to your unique needs.

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Paula James-Martinez, Filmmaker and Editorial Director

Paula James Martinez is a writer, filmmaker, and women's health advocate. She is the director and producer of the documentary Born Free, which investigates the truth about birth and maternal health America. Sits on the boards of non-profit organization "The Mother Lovers" and "4Kira4Moms" to raise awareness of the US maternal health crisis, and co-hosts the parenting podcast "Scruunchy."