It's never too early to start thinking about omega-3's. In fact, researchers have been examining blood levels of o-3 fatty acids in children as young as seven. What are they finding? Levels are too low! Diet reports and blood tests from several studies reveal that most children fail to meet current recommendations for seafood intake. Few, if any, took supplements of omega-3 fatty acids. Does it matter? Of course it does. These long-chain fatty acids play a critical role in brain function and structure. Here are just three ways they can help.
The DOLAB study conducted at the University of Oxford (published in the academic journal PLOS One) found DHA benefits for academic performance. All it took was 16 weeks to see 600 mg of daily DHA supplementation safely and effectively improve reading and behavior. These effects were seen in healthy children that were struggling in mainstream schools. Their standardized tests revealed underperformance in reading. After supplementing for a reasonable time with DHA, children that were struggling with reading were able to catch up with their peers, adding several months to their reading age in a few weeks. Their concentration, memory, and learning were all boosted.
A recent 6-month long study found omega-3 supplements to reduce behavioral problems in children aged 8-16. Children who received a o-3 supplements showed a significant reduction in antisocial behavior (external problems) and depression (internal behavioral problems).
Numerous research studies confirm that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to improve symptoms of more serious developmental conditions, such as ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Many children with ADHD have low levels of EPA and DHA circulating in their blood. Low levels are associated with more signs of learning problems or unruly behavior (such as temper tantrums or poor sleep).
Although there is no established dose of omega-3 for children, they can benefit from consuming food sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as seafood that is not high in mercury (such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, or king mackerel). Omega-3 is even included in some infant formulas.
The benefits of getting adequate omega-3 stretch on beyond childhood. You're investing in their future health. You want to keep your child from having low blood levels of omega-3's now, so they do not have problems with heart disease later.
Are you an adult looking for a top-quality omega-3 supplement? OmegaEnergy fish oil capsules are a great way to get the proper ratio of EPA to DHA fatty acids. Find out more here: http://www.energyfirst.com/omega-3-fish-oil.
Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2010; 52(2):89-97.