Pregnant women get a lot of nutritional advice — and for good reason. Getting adequate protein, calcium, folate, and iron is important for both mama and baby. But there’s one nutrient a sizable majority — nearly 75 percent — of pregnant women and nursing mothers skimp on: docosahexaeonic acid, or DHA, a kind of omega-3 fatty acid. That’s the finding of a Canadian study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 
DHA is found in fatty fish, algae, and meat and dairy products from grass-fed herds. It’s crucial to the development of babies’ brains, nervous systems, and eyes.*
The Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition study surveyed 600 women once during each trimester of their pregnancies and again three months after their babies were born. The women filled out food questionnaires and reported which supplements they were taking. Participants had high levels of education and income and 97 percent were taking a multivitamin during pregnancy.
It was the kind of group you’d expect would have the best chance of meeting nutritional guidelines, but only 27 percent met the EU recommendation of 200 mg of DHA per day for pregnant and nursing women. (The total omega-3 recommendation is at least 500 mg.)
The food questionnaires revealed that the three biggest sources of omega-3s in the women’s diets were seafood, fish, and seaweed, with salmon accounting for the majority. An eye-opening fact is that those women who were taking an omega-3 supplement were 10.6 more likely to meet the recommendation during pregnancy and 11.1 times more likely to meet it while nursing their babies.
The take-away seems clear. If you’re pregnant or nursing a baby, and you don’t eat a lot of low-mercury fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, taking an omega-3 supplementis a good way to make sure both you and your babe are getting enough DHA.
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
 Jia X, et al. Appl Pysiol Nutr Metab. 2015 May;40(5):474-81.