Omega-3's for Kids to Increase Brain Power

There was a time when millions of children were forced to take a daily dose of cod liver oil for good health. While nasty-tasting cod liver oil is largely a thing of the past, millions of children can still benefit from omega-3 for kids to increase brain power. In fact, the best time for kids to get fish oil starts even before they are born.

Making Baby Athletes with Fish Oil

Scientists in the Netherlands found that expectant mothers who get more of the essential omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in their diets while they were pregnant have children who enhanced athletic abilities. The Dutch scientistsmeasured the DHA content in umbilical cord blood in 300 children, and then followed their development until age 7. Babies born with the highest DHA levels became children with most focus. The scientists found that these children were less hyperactive, that they did not fidget or wander, but that they were quicker to acquire motor skills necessary to throw a ball, tie a shoe, use buttons and zippers, play musical instruments and do arts and crafts. Pre-term babies did as well as full-term babies, and boys as well as girls, if their mother consumed the fish oil fatty acid DHA. More evidence of the benefit of fish oil for kids was found that the Dutch children with the highest DHA levels tended to speak in longer sentences, use larger vocabularies, and score higher on tests of language comprehension by age 7. And their mothers were less likely to suffer post-partum depression and more likely to recover from childbirth quickly.

More Evidence of the Benefits of Omega 3's for Kids

The Dutch study was not the only investigation into the benefits of DHA for growing brains. An American research team concluded that babies who get more DHA in their formula grow heavier and taller, have better eyesight, and to use more highly developed language skills by the age of 39 months (3 years and 3 months). A study funded by Abbott Labs in the USA found that pre-term babies were more likely to be able to talk by the age of 14 months if the received formula supplemented by the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. And another Dutch study found that older kids and teens with the "inattentive" form of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) were better able to interact with people and their environment when they got enough DHA from fish oil. So how should expectant mothers and kids get their omega-3 fatty acids?

The Two "F's" for Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The foods that provide the most DHA are the two "F's," flaxseed and fish oil. Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that the body can turn into DHA. Fish oil contains ready-made DHA. And there is some DHA in sausages, weiners, lunch meat, and Spam.

Generally speaking, the body gets about 10 times as much DHA from a dose of fish oil as from a dose of flaxseed oil, and about 10 times as much DHA from a dose flaxseed oil as from the equivalent number of calories of processed meats. Fish oil is a much easier way to provide omega-3's for kids, leaving plenty of room for other nutritious foods.

Parents who are concerned about the potential of heavy metal or PCB contamination of fish need to know that distilled fish oils remove any trace of potentially toxic compounds at the plant. And they are available in flavored capsules and pill form for easy swallowing. How much DHA do kids need?The amount of DHA found in just 800 mg of fish oil is all a child needs for brain health for a single day. That's a child-sized capsule of fish oil, or an adult-sized serving of fish. For easy supplementing for children, use the best fish oil capsules and pills every day to build healthy brains. One dose a day is enough.

Selected References:
  • Aben A, Danckaerts M. [Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD]. Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2010;52(2):89-97. Review. Dutch
  • Huss M, Volp A, Stauss-Grabo M. Supplementation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium and zinc in children seeking medical advice for attention-deficit/hyperactivity problems - an observational cohort study. Lipids Health Dis. 2010 Sep 24;9:105.

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