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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Key to Fetal Development - Possible Mercury Contamination Concerns in Some Fish Oil Avoided With Plant-based DHA in PreNexa(R) Prenatal Vitamins

MAPLE GROVE, Minn., June 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading experts specifically recommend Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as a key omega-3 fatty acid for prenatal development(1, 2, 3). DHA, derived from plants or fish, is consumed in the form of food or nutritional supplements. However, there is increasing discussion about the risk of mercury contamination and fish allergies in association with some fish-based DHA. The plant-based DHA found in PreNexa(R) prenatal vitamins offers mothers-to-be a "next generation" option to support optimum health and development for themselves and their baby.

"Plant-based DHA, like that in PreNexa(R), does not contain fish oil. Since the DHA in PreNexa(R) is derived directly from a plant source, concerns about ocean-borne contaminants or toxins, such as mercury, which may be associated with fish-based DHA, can be avoided," said Mary Harris, M.S., Ph.D., registered dietitian and professor of food science and human nutrition, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo. "PreNexa(R) is a valuable option for health professionals and mothers-to-be."

DHA is a long-chain, polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid found in all organs of the body(2). It is a major structural fat in the brain and retina of the eye, representing up to 97 percent of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and up to 93 percent of the omega-3 fatty acids in the eye(4, 5). It is also naturally found in breast milk(1). Developing infants cannot efficiently produce their own DHA, so they must obtain this vital nutrient through the placenta during pregnancy or from an outside source such as breast milk after birth(6). The result is that mothers continuously lose their omega-3 fatty acid stores during pregnancy(7). Since many women do not consume the amount of DHA recommended by experts in diet alone, a prescription prenatal vitamin with DHA can help satisfy the daily needs of a mother and her baby.

"A prescription prenatal vitamin with DHA helps ensure that the mother's DHA intake is greater than or equal to 200 to 300 mg per day recommended during pregnancy and while breastfeeding," added Dr. Harris(1, 2, 3).

DHA can be derived from a direct plant source (microalgae) or an indirect fish source. Fish oil-based DHA is obtained by extracting DHA after the fish have eaten algae and the oil has been processed through varying filtration methods(8). Unfortunately, fish oil can leave patients with a fishy smell, taste and aftertaste(9).

PreNexa(R) is the first single gel capsule with plant-based DHA. PreNexa(R) also contains more plant-based DHA than other all-in-one gel capsule prenatal vitamins(10-12). It can be taken at any time of the day or night and includes: Folic Acid (1.2 mg), Vitamin C (25 mg), Vitamin D3 (170 IU), Vitamin E (30 IU), Iron (30 mg), Calcium (160 mg) and Vitamin B6 (25 mg)(10). It also contains a gentle stool softener known as docusate sodium which is an added comfort for approximately 50 percent of pregnant women who suffer from irregularity at some point in their pregnancy(13).

The DHA in PreNexa(R) is the same DHA source that has been granted Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status for use in infant formulas by the United States Food and Drug Administration and is used in 97 percent of infant formulas(8, 14). The DHA in PreNexa(R) is derived from algae grown in fermentation tanks and processed in a closed and controlled manufacturing process in an FDA-inspected facility offering high standards of quality control.

PreNexa(R) is available nationwide, by prescription only, in bottles containing a 30-day supply.

WARNING: Accidental overdose of iron-containing products is a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children less than six years of age. KEEP THIS PRODUCT OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN. In the case of accidental overdose, call a doctor or poison control center immediately. Please see accompanying full Prescribing Information for a complete list of warnings and precautions.

Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc. is pursuing drug therapies to improve people's lives. The company is driven by the ever-changing needs of patients, physicians, pharmacists and healthcare organizations. Focused on market expansion in women's health, dermatology, cardiology and in developing products for neurology, their perspective is not "more products" but the "right products" to improve lives. For additional information about PreNexa(R), visit, or to learn more about Upsher-Smith, visit


1. Koletzko, et al. The roles of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in pregnancy, lactation and infancy; review of current knowledge and consensus recommendations. J Perinat Med 36 (2008) 5-14. 2. Arterburn LM, Oken HA, Bailey Hall E, et al. Algal-oil capsules and cooked salmon: nutritionally equivalent sources of docosahexaenoic acid. J Am Diet Assoc. (2008);108:1204-1209. 3. Simopoulos AP, Leaf A, Salem N Jr. Workshop on the essentiality of and recommended dietary intakes for omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. J Am Coll Nutr. 1999;61:57-62. 4. Lauritzen, L, Hansen HS, Jorgensen MH, et al. "The essentiality of long chain n-3 fatty acids in relation to development and function of the brain and retina." Prog Lipid Res. 2001;40:1-94. (Calculated using Table 1 data 22 6n-3/Total n-3). 5. Martinez M. "Tissue levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids during early human development." Pediatr. 1992;120:S129-138. 6. Szajewska, et al. Effect on n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation of women with low-risk pregnancies on pregnancy outcomes and growth measures at birth: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Journal Clinical Nutrition, (2006);83:1337-44. 7. Hornstra G, Al MD, van Houwelingen AC, Foreman-van Drongelen NM, Essential fatty acids in pregnancy and early human development. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1995;61:57-62. 8. Martek Biosciences Corporation. Data on file. 9. Harris WS. Fish oil supplementation: evidence for health benefits. Cleve Clin J Med. 2004;71:208-221. 10. PreNexa [package insert]. Minneapolis, MN: Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc; 2008. 11. Neevo DHA [package insert]. Covington, LA: PamLab LLC; 2009. 12. Prenate DHA [package insert]. Atlanta, GA: Sciele Pharma, Inc; 2007. 13. American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy and Constipation. Accessed August 21, 2008. 14. U.S. FDA GRAS Notice No. GRN 000041.

SOURCE Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc.
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