With the pace of modern life getting to be more and more hectic, young mothers rarely have enough time to cook a really good meal on week nights. Pre-packaged foods seem to be the order of the day, though sadly they are high on bad fats and low on omega 3 or good fats.
Parents are therefore advised to add omega 3 fish oil supplements to their kids’ diet so that they eat a balanced diet. When pregnant women include this in their diet, they not only prevent any birth defects, but also aid the development of the unborn baby’s brain and eyes.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is a form of fatty acids that are extracted from the tissues of oily fish. It is the repository of omega-3 fatty acids, better known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Fish oil can be eaten by eating fish or in the form of capsules, tablets or other supplements. Some fish that have good reserves of omega-3 fatty acids include tuna, salmon, seal blubber, herring, mackerel and cod liver.
Significance of fish oil supplements for kids
According to studies conducted by doctors on the healthiest diets for kids, it was found that sufficient quantities of fresh vegetables and fruits along with proteins and fats would be best. While proteins would help with tissue growth and repair, fats would help with the normal functioning of the heart and nerves. From the above, it was deduced that fish was the answer to a protein source and that of omega-3 fats.
However, parents often face the problem of forcing their kids to eat foods they don’t particularly like, fish being one of them. For such kids, it’s easy to take fish oil supplements in the form of pills instead of eating the food they find hateful.
Omega-3 is important right from the time a fetus develops in his mother’s womb. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of these nutrients:
- Mental growth and development: According to certain studies, those infants that were fed formulas enhanced with omega-3 fatty acid DHA showed remarkable improvement in their attention span, general intelligence, eye-hand coordination and social skills.
- Asthma: Studies also confirm the fact that the teenage children of mothers who took fish oil during pregnancy weren’t as likely to develop asthma as those whose mothers did not take this supplement.
- Brain development: When omega-3 is added to babies’ formula, it stimulates brain growth in premature babies.
Benefits of fish oil supplements for toddlers: As you’re probably aware, fish oil is derived from the tissues of oily fish, such asshark, tuna, salmon, sardines, swordfish, mackerel and halibut, among others. Normal toddlers needn’t take fish oil supplements, instead they can eat a couple of servings of fresh fish a week. However, if a toddler is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), he or she would improve with regular doses of these supplements. Toddlers’ brain and vision can develop well if essential fats or fish oil supplements are made part of their daily diet. These supplements are also known to improve their coordination, concentration, memory, intelligence and allergic conditions like eczema and asthma.
Benefits of fish oil supplements in children
Unknown to many parents and adults are the many benefits of fish oil supplements for children. Here are the chief among them:
- Brain development: DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid present in cold-water, oily fish like salmon and fish oil supplements, is particularly essential for children’s brain development. Children’s brain development can be further enhanced if the pregnant mother feeds them DHA-enriched breast milk. According to studies, breastfed babies end up with higher IQs, they learn motor skills earlier than others, they face fewer emotional and behavioral problems and have a lowered risk of neurological problems in later life.
- Autism: When children with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are given fish oil supplements, it resulted in improved language and learning skills.
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Clinical studies have proved that children with low levels of DHA and EPA had more ADHD symptoms. They also displayed problems such as lack of concentration, learning issues and had disturbed sleep. For them, a course of omega 3 can reduce Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms as it helps increase the learning process and to concentrate on the happenings in the classroom.
- Immunity: Children get immunity through various nutrients, namely EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). The mother’s diet is the main source of these nutrients, but as children grow older, they can use omega-3 oil supplements. For children older than one year, chewable tablets or capsules of fish oil supplements will help improve their immunity. Care should be taken to choose only those tablets that are mercury-free. Among fish oil supplements, cod liver oil has a very high percentage of Vitamins A and D. If children are given this supplement, they will not suffer from rickets and common infections. It also helps set healthy cell membranes that help prevent inflammation, resist attacks by pathogens and toxins. A conservative dose for kids is one teaspoon of cod liver oil for every 23 kilos of body weight.
- Inflammation and infection: Fish oil supplements contain Vitamin E that plays a stellar role in maintaining optimum fatty acid levels after absorption into the cells. Thanks to Vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory capabilities and resistance to infection, children are safe from these with a regular 100 mg dose for kids under two years of age and 200 mg for three year-olds up till 12 years.
- Eyesight, strong bones and teeth: Vitamin A contained in fish oil supplements help in good mucous membrane function and for growing and repairing body tissues. It also helps in good protein digestion. It also helps have good vision, strong bones, teeth and a good immune system.
Other benefits kids can reap by regularly taking fish oil supplements include:
Weight loss, better grades at school, allergy relief, reduced risk of schizophrenia, better spelling skills, stress relief and treating dyslexia and dyspraxia.