What role does DHA play in health?

The full name of DHA is Docosa Hexaenoic Acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Like unsaturated fatty acids in the same group, DHA is essential for the nervous system, brain, vision and skeletal system of the human body. Especially, for pregnant women, DHA during pregnancy plays an extremely important role.

1. What is DHA?

DHA is a fatty acid belonging to the group of Omega-3 fatty acids (unsaturated fatty acids with 22 carbons, 6 double bonds, the first double bond at carbon position 3), which is essential for the brain and vision development of children. people, helping to increase immunity and reduce the risk of developing allergies in children.

The human body cannot synthesize DHA on its own, but must be obtained from food sources in the daily diet.

2. What is the effect of DHA?

In fact, many people do not know what DHA is and what its effects are, however, for comprehensive development, DHA plays a very important role.

  • The role of DHA for children

Children need to be supplemented with DHA because this is an essential substance for the complete development of the vision function of the eyes, DHA accounts for a high percentage in the retina and is the place where the eyes are commanded.

DHA is very important for brain development, helping the perfect development of the nervous system and IQ of children. DHA is considered an indispensable substance for the development of a child’s brain, it accounts for a very high percentage of gray matter and creates the sensitivity of neurons, helping to transmit information quickly and efficiently. exactly. If the child is not provided with enough DHA during the development process, the IQ will be lower than normal.

In particular, adequate DHA during pregnancy also has a great effect on increasing bone mass. Science has proven, DHA has a close relationship with the development of head circumference, weight and length of infants, it helps participate in the structure of the child’s skeleton and maintains and increases bone mass., while minimizing the risk of osteoporosis by equalizing Ca levels and influencing the generation and activity of osteoblasts.

  • DHA for adults

DHA has many effects on the comprehensive development of children, so for adults, what effect does DHA have ? If fully supplemented with this substance, adults, especially postpartum mothers, will reduce the rate of postpartum depression.

In addition, DHA also helps to reduce total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and blood triglycerides, prevent atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction in older children and adults.

3. How to supplement DHA during pregnancy?

Nutrition before and during pregnancy plays a very important role in supplementing substances, especially DHA during pregnancy so that the baby can develop the most comprehensively.

According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), during pregnancy, depending on the stage, pregnant women need to supplement from 100-200 mg of DHA per day. Especially in the last 3 months of pregnancy, an average of 1 day the fetus will need about 2.2g of EFAs/day for the development of the nervous system and blood vessels. Newborns and premature babies will require an adequate supply of DHA because they are not able to convert the DHA precursor from vegetable oils, or other breast milk substitutes to DHA.

About 45 days after birth, the amount of DHA in breast milk accounts for about 0.3% AA: 0.4% and DPA: 0.2%. However, in some special cases, babies are not breastfed, so they must choose breast milk substitutes with added fatty acids.

4. How will the body be affected by lack of DHA?

DHA belongs to the group of essential omega-3 fatty acids of the body, so a lack of omega 3 will lead to many disease risks and have a significant impact on the functioning of the human body.

For pregnant women, a DHA deficiency is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth, pre-eclampsia, postpartum depression, and bone problems and menopause.

In fetuses and infants, a deficiency of DHA will directly affect the development of the child’s immune system and increase the risk of asthma, allergies, and also limit the level of intelligence. intelligence and brain development of children. Therefore, DHA supplementation during pregnancy through the placenta while in the womb and breast milk at birth plays a very important role, ensuring that the baby has the necessary amount of DHA for the best development.

Some of the best foods to help supplement DHA during pregnancy include:

  • Sea fish such as tuna, mackerel, sardines, salmon, pregnant women should eat sea fish about 300 grams per week to fully supplement natural DHA and avoid the risk of mercury poisoning;
  • DHA is present in egg yolks, however, during pregnancy, pregnant women should only eat fully cooked eggs, absolutely should not eat soft-boiled eggs and beaten eggs;
  • Nuts such as cashews, almonds, walnuts…;
  • Green vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, watercress, kale… are also rich in DHA and fiber to help pregnant women improve their daily meals.

In addition, pregnant women can also supplement DHA during pregnancy by taking prenatal milk and multivitamins or DHA supplements specifically for pregnant women with appropriate DHA content. However, it is necessary to consult a nutritionist for the most specific advice.

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  • DHA requirements according to each stage of pregnancy
  • How to supplement DHA for children?
  • Why should supplement DHA for infants, premature babies?

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