Maternal nutrition before, during and after pregnancy plays an important role in fetal and infant development, as well as in maternal well-being. Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found throughout the body, supports optimal fetal and infant brain, eye and nervous system development. Because developing infants cannot efficiently produce their own DHA, they must obtain this vital nutrient through the placenta during pregnancy and from breast milk after birth. Maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy and nursing significantly enhances the level of DHA available to the fetus and infant and may subsequently improve developmental outcomes. DHA has also been shown to play a part in maternal well-being.
Based on the growing data supporting the importance of DHA in the maternal diet, dietary recommendations for maternal DHA intake have emerged. Unfortunately, the typical diet among women of childbearing age is consistently low in DHA, due, in large part, to limited dietary sources.
Increasing recognition of the importance of DHA during pregnancy and nursing and its limited availability in the typical American diet is paving the way for perinatal products fortified with DHA. Mothers want to provide the best for their developing infants and are looking for food products specifically designed to meet their need for important perinatal nutrients, including DHA.
Importance of DHA During Pregnancy and While Nursing
DHA is a major structural component of the brain and eyes and is important for optimal infant brain, eye and nervous system development. In fact, DHA represents up to 97% of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and up to 93% of the omega-3 fatty acids in the retina.
Maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy and nursing significantly enhances the level of DHA available to the fetus and infant. The body of research supporting the importance of DHA for pregnant and nursing women and their developing infants continues to grow.
Applications and Expertise
life'sDHA is an important prenatal nutrient that is ideal for inclusion in products targeting pregnant and nursing women. Currently, life'sDHA has been successfully added to prenatal products in the following categories:
- Prescription prenatal supplements co-packaged with DHA capsules
- Dietary supplement DHA capsules
- Foods & Beverages