Hopefully you have already read my article on the best prenatal vitamins. In that article I reviewed different prenatal vitamins and recommended which vitamins contain most of what you need. I addressed prenatal DHA, but mentioned that most prenatal vitamins don’t contain enough DHA. Many prenatal vitamin brands even produce a related prenatal DHA product. However, some companies produce an amazing prenatal vitamin, but a worse prenatal DHA supplement. Other companies make a fabulous prenatal DHA but a prenatal vitamin I would not recommend. It is worth doing your due diligence and choosing the best product from each category. This is not the time for brand loyalty.
I have reviewed the most common prenatal DHA supplements out there and have personally tested some of the best.
DHA is often not found in prenatal vitamins. It is an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is essential for fetal brain development. Unlike other nutrients, such as folic acid, DHA is the most critical in the third trimester. This is when the majority of DHA transfer and accumulation in the brain occurs. DHA accumulation in the brain contains through the first 2 years of postnatal life.
The recommended daily intake of DHA is 200-300mg.
Ideally you would get all your required DHA in your diet. You can find DHA naturally in fish products. However, it would take a lot of fish to provide you with 200-300mg of DHA every day. The mercury warnings on many fish coupled with morning sickness make this even more difficult. Not to mention- if you are vegetarian your dietary sources of DHA are basically non-existent. To make sure you are getting what you need I always recommend a DHA supplement.
There are two types of DHA supplements. The most common type is fish oil. Fish oil is often nutrient dense and inexpensive. However, it can be an issue for vegetarians and vegans. The second option is algae-derived DHA. This is vegan, but typically more expensive than fish oil.
3 Recommended Products:
Rainbow Light Prenatal DHA (link)
Source: Fish Oil
Pros: What I like so much about this product is the extra choline. You may remember from my previous article the many benefits of choline. This supplement does contain anywhere close to the recommended daily intake of choline, but it does give you a small boost. It is relatively inexpensive at only $0.40 per day.
Cons: While the first few bottles I ordered had no “fishy” smell, the third bottle I received had a very strong “fishy smell”. This made me concerned that the pills had gone bad, despite not being paste the expiration date. Many reviewers have experienced the same inconsistency between bottles.
Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA (link)
Source: Fish Oil
Pros: This product contains extra vitamin D3. Many people don’t get enough vitamin D3 and some prenatal vitamins don’t contain enough. This supplement will give you an extra boost of D3. This product did not have a “fishy smell”. It also is relatively inexpensive at $0.27 per pill. However, you need to take 2 pills per day, so the cost comes to $0.54 per day, which is still economical.
Cons: Contains “natural strawberry flavor”. Although it may not cause any harm I like to avoid added flavors if they are not necessary. However, you can also order a product that is flavor-less.
Diet Standards Prenatal DHA (link)
Pros: This is my recommendation for the environmentally-friendly and the vegetarians and vegans out there. This product is sourced from algae making it sustainable and fish-free. After going through all the reviews of this product it appears no one has reported a fishy taste or smell. This product contains 450mg of DHA, which is almost double the recommended amount.
Cons: This is expensive. The recommendation is to take 3 tablets per day. This comes to $0.87 per day. This cost can really add up quickly. If the price is an obstacle for you, I suggest taking 2 per day. 2 tablets per day would still be 300mg of DHA, which is the recommended daily intake of DHA. This would decrease your cost to only $0.58 per day which is closer to other brands.