Everyday we hear that healthy eating is about balance with your kids. Balancing their fruit intake with their number of chocolate chip cookies or their choice of French fries versus apple slices at a restaurant. In essence, watching their fat intake and increasing their fruits and vegetables. We areconstantly being told to cut back on fat, yet there is one type of fat Canadian children are not getting enough of.
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are essential nutrients for your health. Essential means that our body cannot produce this important nutrient on its own. We must get omega 3 fatty acids from food or supplements. An adequate supply of Omega 3 fats is important during fetal development and continues on into adulthood. Important for the benefits is provides, especially where a child's developing brain is concerned.
What Research Says About Omega 3’s Giving Kids Brain a Boost Right From The Start
Omega 3 (specifically DHA) is found in high concentrations in brain tissue where it supports optimal brain functioning. Studies have shown that children born to mothers who took supplements of Omega 3s (DHA and EPA) during pregnancy and during the first months of breastfeeding scored higher on cognitive tests at 4 years of age compared to children whose mothers did not take supplements of DHA and EPA.1 During pregnancy and lactation mothers need a good intake of Omega 3’s from food and/or supplements to pass along to their baby’s growing mind.
A recent study from the University of Oxford in the UK reported that 7-9 year old children with the lowest blood levels of DHA Omega 3 and lowest dietary intake exhibited a lower working memory and a poorer reading ability as compared to children with much higher levels. When these researchers increased the children’s DHA intake compared to the control group, children whose reading levels were in the lowest fifth improved over the course of the study. 2 A follow-up study is currently underway at the University of Oxford to explore the effects of DHA supplementation in a larger sample of poor readers. North American children average less than 1 fish serving/week. Regardless of your child’s reading level, ensuring a good intake of Omega 3 fats in their diet.
Fish oil is often used as a treatment for depression in adults and Omega 3 fatty acids may have therapeutic benefits in childhood depression as well. Promising initial evidence has shown improvements in depressive symptoms as well as rating scores compared to controls yet more research is needed for confirmation with larger, well-designed trials. 3 Find the good fat balance by increasing the intake of Omega 3 rich food choices at your house. Good sources include salmon, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and fish oil supplements like IronKids.
3 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16741212 and http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fish-oil/NS_patient-fishoil/DSECTION=evidence