By the USANA ANZ
If you have child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia or dyspraxia, you’ve probably already heard about the encouraging effects of omega-3 fish oils on these conditions. And, you may also know that oily fish is the richest source of omega-3 fats. But if your kids don’t like the strong taste of fish and you don’t fancy forcing a sardine down your child’s throat (joking!) twice a week, a good quality fish oil like BiOmega™ Jr. might help.
Omega-3 fats like these are important for a whole host of functions including eye health and for the correct running of parts of the brain used for memory, learning and reasoning behaviour. In the body, DHA is concentrated in the brain. The two most important omega-3s in human health are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Here’s what we know about omega-3s and how they impact children’s mood, learning and behaviour…
ADHD and low omega-3s
Children with ADHD are more likely to show symptoms of having low blood levels of omega-3s, such as dry skin and hair and excessive thirst. Some studies have shown that increasing omega-3 levels reduces the severity of ADHD-type behaviour such as difficulty in focusing and paying attention in some children, too.
Fish oil and behaviour
Australian research published in The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, found improvements in parents’ ratings of their children’s hyperactivity and inattention after being given fish oil. However, the children’s teachers’ didn’t agree with the improvements seen by the children’s’ parents.
Other studies have linked fish oils with improvement in reading ability. One particular research, led by the University of Oxford in the UK, showed that some children with reading difficulties displayed improved reading after taking fish oil. And in the group of children with the lowest 10 per cent reading ability, reading age improved the most. So, it may be that getting enough omega-3s may help children catch up with peers.
Although other research had linked benefits of omega-3s in children with conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia and developmental coordination disorder, this was the first research to show positive results in children from the general school population.
Adult studies have suggested that as an adjunct to treatment, fish oil might help with depression. Both EPA and DHA help to carry messages from outside into cells. And, since both EPA and DHA occur together naturally, may be that the human brain would benefit from a combination of the two. Studies are ongoing and more research is needed to confirm the role of omega-3s in children and this kind of mood disorder.
All in all, research suggests that taking a supplement of omega-3s may improve attention, brain function and self-control, attention and behaviour in children who don’t get enough omega-3s via diet.
Could your kids be low in omega-3s?
The modern western diet tends to be short on omega-3s; foods rich in these essential fats include oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel and organ meats such as brains. As oily fish tends to have a strong taste – and we’re not sure how many kids would want brains on toast – the average child could well be short on these vital nutrients.
Fish oil: safety
Fish oil is generally considered safe unless your child has a sensitivity to fish, has a bleeding disorder and or/is taking a blood thinning medicine. They vary a lot in their content and quality. BiOmega Jr. is a great choice because it has:
1. High levels of EPA and DHA – two of the most important constituents in omega-3 fats
2. Is a pharmaceutical grade fish oils supplement
3. Is distilled to be free from mercury.
A good quality fish oil is a good way to ensure adequate omega-3s and is generally safe unless your child has a sensitivity to fish oils or has a bleeding disorder, or/is taking a blood-thinning medicine or unless advise not to take such a supplement by a medical professional.
Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
USE ONLY AS DIRECTED, ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
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