Whether you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, it can be an exciting but nerve-wracking time of your life. You want to do everything right but often feel confused and misled by all the noise out there. Between your doctor’s advice, your mom’s, best friend’s, and even your favorite Instagram influencers, you have a lot of voices to listen to.
You already know that giving your body the nutrients it needs is important and that it’s even more so when you’re pregnant. And maybe you heard that taking a prenatal vitamin with DHA can be beneficial for you and your baby, but you aren’t sure where to start to find one that’s safe, healthy, and effective.
I was right there with you, which is why I’m sharing what I discovered about why DHA is important in prenatal vitamins and also found the very best options available to share with you. In this article, I’m going to talk all about prenatal vitamins with DHA, why it’s important, and what to look for, and then give you my top recommendations so you can choose the option that’s best for you and your baby.
Quick Table of the Top DHA Prenatal Vitamins
12 key nutrients for before and during pregnancy
23 other nutrients
Folate, iron, vitamin B12
Iron, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and more
Metabolically-active folic, 17 other essential nutrients
Folate, Choline, Omega-3s, Iron and more
What is DHA and Why Is It Important During Pregnancy?
Before we get into our favorite prenatal vitamins with DHA, let’s first address what DHA is and the importance of taking it during pregnancy.
DHA is short for docosahexaenoic acid, which is one of the three major omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a critical part of your cell membranes and are involved with a multitude of processes in the body, including supporting brain, heart, and eye health.
Omega-3s are found everywhere in the body, but DHA is especially prominent in the brain and the eyes, which is why they play such an important role in supporting your brain and vision health. Additionally, research has shown that there are extra health benefits linked to DHA for pregnant women.
Specific Health Benefits of Prenatal DHA
So what exactly are the specific health benefits of taking a DHA supplement during pregnancy? Well, research has shown that DHA, along with Choline and Folate, during pregnancy may help to support your baby’s developing brain. Experts suggest that taking 250 mg of DHA + EPA (Omega-3 fatty acids) is a key component of a healthy prenatal regime to support your growing baby and his or her’s brain development.
Where Does DHA Come From/Why Supplement?
DHA can be found in a variety of fish and seafood, including salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. However, studies show that 95% of pregnant women in the United States don’t consume the recommended daily intake of key omega-3s, which is why supplementation might be necessary.
Pregnant women who do not enjoy seafood or who are vegan are more likely to be deficient in omega-3s, which is why their physician might recommend that they take a prenatal vitamin with DHA to help fill that gap.
Buying Guide: Here’s What to Look For in a Prenatal with DHA
Suppose you’re looking for a prenatal vitamin that contains DHA. In that case, it’s important to remember that you’ll still need to be incredibly choosy about a few other key aspects of your vitamin to ensure that you’re getting the best possible option for you and your growing baby. Here’s what to look for:
DHA Included or Taken Separately
One of the biggest considerations when looking for a prenatal vitamin with DHA is whether the formula contains DHA within it, or you are required to take your DHA supplement separately. There’s no right or wrong way to supplement with DHA, but the convenience will certainly play a role here. For many pregnant women, it’s hard enough to get their regular prenatal vitamins down each day let alone swallow an additional capsule or two. If you don’t have a problem with downing several pills each day, a separated prenatal and DHA system will be just fine. However, if you want to keep your capsules to a minimum, find a formula that includes DHA.
Key Prenatal Ingredients
Of course, when you’re seeking a prenatal with DHA, the first thing you’ll check for is the inclusion of DHA, but don’t forget to analyze the other key ingredients to make sure that you’re getting all the essential nutrients you and your baby need.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the key vitamins and minerals during pregnancy include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B6 and B12
- Folic Acid
DHA is found in many fish and kinds of seafood, but it’s also found in microalgae. If you’re vegan or would like to consume DHA sourced from a vegan source, find a prenatal with DHA that sources their DHA from microalgae, which is the original source (fish feed from microalgae, which is where they consume their DHA).
Brand integrity is often overlooked when choosing a supplement of any kind, however, it’s a critical step in the buying process. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA. This means that there can be some discrepancies between what’s disclosed on the label and what’s inside the formula.
Look for a brand with clean, transparent labeling, and one that utilizes third-party testing to ensure the safety and efficacy of the ingredients.
The Top Prenatal Vitamins With DHA
With all the background information behind us, we can move on to the good stuff! Let’s run through the best prenatal vitamins that contain DHA so that you can choose a supplement that you feel good about and that helps your baby grow and develop wonderfully.
1. Ritual Essential Prenatal Vitamin
Ritual’s Essential Prenatal Vitamins (read review) are formulated with 12 key nutrients that are suited for both before and during pregnancy. This formula includes 350 mg per serving of omega-3 DHA that’s sourced directly from microalgae, making it a pure, vegan-friendly option.
Plus, Essential Prenatal Multivitamin also includes 5-MTHF Folate instead of Folic Acid, which is the synthetic form of folate that’s commonly found in many prenatal vitamins. Ritual formulates their prenatal vitamins without any artificial colors, synthetic fillers, GMOs, or major allergens like gluten. As a bonus, these capsules are essenced with citrus, making these prenatals easy to take every day.
- Formulated with 12 key nutrients, including DHA
- Traceable ingredients
- Vegan, gluten-free, Non-GMO, free of artificial colorants
- Delayed release capsule design for maximum absorption
- Includes Folate and Choline for neural tube development
- Supports bone health thanks to D3, K2, Magnesium, and Boron
- Blood-building benefits from Iron, Folate, and B12
- Essenced with lemon or mint for a pleasant experience
- Oily and dry ingredients are combined in one capsule so you don’t have to take multiple pills
- Very reputable brand
- Some users complained of a fishy aftertaste and/or fishy burps, which is common when using fish oil
2. HUM Nutrition Womb Service
HUM Nutrition’s Womb Service Prenatal Multi + DHA (read review) is an expertly formulated prenatal vitamin that includes 23 nutrients to support all of your and your baby’s needs throughout pregnancy and post-partum.
Womb Service comes in a two-pill formula; Step 1 is the prenatal multivitamin that’s designed to support you and your baby’s daily nutrient needs with 22 vitamins and minerals, including Folate and Choline. Step 2 is the vegan DHA capsule which is made from vegan, sustainably sourced algae oil that is crucial for the support and development of your baby’s brain and vision. Plus, the separation of the DHA from the multi allows HUM to eliminate the fishy aftertaste that’s commonly associated with algae-based vegan DHA.
- Includes a total of 23 nutrients to support you + baby
- Supports healthy fetal development, including brain, vision, and bones
- Contains Folate to support neural tube development
- Includes vegan DHA for optimal brain development
- Separate DHA supplement to avoid fishy burps and aftertaste
- Non-GMO, vegan, Gluten-free, and triple tested for purity
- A great, women-focused brand with an amazing mission
- You are required to take two different capsules from two different bottles each day
3. Natalist Prenatal Daily Packs
Natalist Prenatal Daily Packs are thoughtfully formulated for prenatal care, including 21 high-quality, gentle ingredients to support you and your baby throughout pregnancy. These daily packs include folate, iron, vitamin B12, and DHA so you can get the nutrients you need in one convenient daily pack.
These Prenatal Daily Packets were carefully developed by leading OBGYNs and registered dietitians based on the strength of clinical evidence to ensure maximum benefit for you and your baby. Each pack contains three multivitamin capsules plus two DHA soft gels, all inside a daily packet so that you can easily take your vitamins on the go and not worry about forgetting them.
- Contains 21 essential ingredients to support the intricate fetal needs during preconception and pregnancy
- Contains 450 mg of vegan DHA for brain development
- Delayed release capsules ensure easy digestion
- Free of allergens, including gluten
- Convenient vitamins packs make taking these easy
- A doctor-led brand that focuses on prenatal and pregnancy products
- Each pack contains 5 capsules to be taken daily, which might be hard for some pregnant women
4. Joy Bundle by 1st Phorm
The Joy Bundle by 1st Phorm is the most comprehensive and complete prenatal health kit you’ll find. Specifically designed to naturally supply your body with all the micronutrients and omega-3s (DHA + EPA) your body needs during this special and sometimes challenging time. The Joy Bundle includes 1st Phorm’s Prenatal Plus supplement as well as their popular Full Mega Omega-3 supplement.
Prenatal Plus contains all the essential nutrients that are clinically proven to help your baby grow and develop including folic acid, iron, vitamins A, C, and D, Zinc, and B vitamins. This supplement, when paired with the Full Mega as part of the Joy Bundle helps to ensure a healthy mom, healthy baby, and an increased immune response to boot.
- Comprehensive prenatal vitamins with DHA
- Promotes a healthy mom and a healthy baby
- Increases immune function for both mom and baby
- Concentrated EPA/DHA Omega-3’s for optimal brain development
- Includes all the most important vitamins and minerals proven to support pregnancy
- Hundreds of positive reviews
- Great brand with a high trust factor
- In total, there are 5 capsules to take per day
- It’s a tad more expensive per month than some other options
5. STIX Prenatal Multi with DHA
Stix Prenatal Multi with DHA is doctor-formulated, containing metabolically active folic acid, DHA, and 17 other essential nutrients for you and your developing baby. There are no artificial colors or synthetic fillers and it's non-GMO and gluten, soy, and dairy free.
Stix uses a no-nausea capsule design and a once-daily pill to minimize the stress that can come with trying to swallow large pills during pregnancy. The key ingredients inside Stix’s Prenatal multi include calcium, DHA, Folic acid, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, and more, giving you a well-rounded supply of essential vitamins and minerals for both you and your baby.
- One easy-to-take capsule per day
- DHA is included in the capsule, so no need for multiple pills per day
- Contains 17 key vitamins and minerals for you and your baby
- No-Nausea design
- Affordable monthly cost
- A pregnancy-specific brand with a great mission
- Some fishy aftertaste and burps were reported
- No Choline in this formula
6. Modern Fertility Prenatal Vitamins with DHA
Modern Fertility’s Prenatal Vitamins with DHA are designed to support your body before, during, and after pregnancy with 12 essential vitamins. This formula was developed by top OBGYNs and is vegetarian, gluten-free, and free of any preservatives.
This prenatal supplement contains all the right amounts of nutrients your body needs to bridge the gap between your nutrition derived from your meals and what you need on board to support your developing baby. The key ingredients in this formula include folate, choline, omega-3s (DHA), iron, Vitamin A, Vitamins B6 and B12, Vitamin C, Biotin, Zinc, and Iodine.
- Contains 12 essential vitamins and minerals to support before, during, and after pregnancy
- A citrus flavor that’s easy on the stomach
- Vegetarian and gluten-free
- Sustainable subscription and reusable jar
- One pill contains all nutrients, no separate pills to take
- Affordable monthly cost
- Some users complained of a fishy aftertaste
- It’s not vegan
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are a handful of FAQs regarding prenatal vitamins with DHA. Gives these a read as you finalize your decision.
Yes, if you don’t consume oily fish regularly, you should consider taking a DHA supplement with your prenatal vitamin or taking a prenatal vitamin that contains DHA to ensure you’re getting enough Omega-3s to support your baby's brain and vision development.
DHA has been shown to be important in all trimesters of pregnancy, however, it’s particularly important for brain development and retina during the third trimester.
Nope, it’s never too late to take DHA during pregnancy. In fact, studies have shown that mothers who consume more DHA in the last few weeks of pregnancy actually gave birth to babies with significantly higher DHA levels than those who did not. Whether you’re trying to conceive or at the end of pregnancy, it’s never too late to add DHA or a prenatal with DHA to your supplement routine.
Surprisingly, no. In fact, most mainstream prenatal vitamin options do not contain DHA. As with any supplement, be sure to take a look at the nutritional label to get familiar with what vitamins and minerals are inside and whether or not it covers all of your and your baby’s nutritional needs.
The Bottom Line
Looking for a prenatal vitamin that includes DHA isn’t as easy as you might think. Most mainstream prenatals that you can grab from the store shelf don’t include Omega-3s. Of course, it’s always an option to choose a separate Omega-3 supplement to compliment your prenatal routine, however, I suggest selecting an option from our list as these are all integral products that are efficaciously dosed for pregnancy.
Whether you want to find a vitamin that contains DHA or you’re happy to stack your prenatal with a pregnancy DHA supplement, this list has you covered with some of the best options on the market right now. As with any supplement, especially during pregnancy, be sure to run it by your OBGYN before beginning to make sure that it’s in alignment with you and your baby’s nutritional needs.