In recent years, omega-3 fish oils have been promoted as the latest nutritional powerhouse. Crucial to normal brain and eye function development, omega 3 undoubtedly packs a nutritional punch.
In this post, we explore why omega-3 is so important to your children’s health. And we give you some tips on how to ensure your kids get enough, including using omega 3 supplements.
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats. There are three types of omega-3s:
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
ALA is mainly found in plant sources such as flaxseed, walnuts and chia seeds. The main dietary source of EPA and DHA is oily fish.
Do Kids Need Omega-3?
The short answer is yes, most definitely.
Omega 3 plays a vital role in developing children’s brains, especially during pregnancy and the toddler years. And omega 3 is also crucial for a healthy heart and eyes.
Think of omega-3 as an essential building block that can help your child to concentrate and learn new information.
According to the European Food Safety Authority, we need 250 mg of omega-3 every day for optimum health. And that means two portions of oily fish per week.
Omega-3 Benefits for Kids
Omega-3 has a reputation for being a nutritional powerhouse for good reason. It offers a whole host of benefits, including the following:
Omega 3 Supports Your Child’s Brain Health
Research tells us that omega-3 fatty acids improve brain functioning and support learning in kids. Its wide-ranging benefits also impact memory, vision and your child’s ability to concentrate.
Foods Containing Omega-3
So, what should your kids be eating and what foods are high in omega 3?
Oily fish is the number one source of omega-3, especially salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines, and freshwater trout.
Plant sources include some seeds and nuts plus vegetable oils, including canola and uncooked flax oils.
Other excellent sources include omega eggs which come from hens fed a diet rich in omega-3. Grass-fed cattle are another option. Beef from cattle fed on grass has much more of these essential fatty acids. Furthermore, some processed foods are fortified with omega 3. Check out the packaging on margarine, milk and juices in particular.
However, as every parent knows, kids can be notoriously fussy eaters. Lots of children don’t like fish. And flaxseed is unlikely to figure on most kids’ top ten food choices.
To increase omega-3 in your child’s diet, try making crumbed fish bites from tinned salmon. Alternatively, adding a teaspoon of flaxseed oil to a fruit smoothie often goes undetected even by the pickiest child. And why not incorporate chia seeds, ground flaxseeds or walnuts into your child’s favourite muffin recipe. After all, every bit helps.
Omega-3 Supplements For Kids
Taking the steps outlined above may not be enough for some picky kids. Parents who can’t face another dinner-table battle often choose omega 3 supplements to ensure their children are getting enough Omega 3.
There are several types of omega-3 supplements, but most are packaged as fish oil or krill oil supplements. And some kid’s multivitamin supplements also include omega 3.
Children often find it hard to swallow tablets, so make sure you opt for a kid-friendly gel capsule or chew supplement.
Also, check the label and select a brand that’s high in DHA as these have more of the essential fatty acids in omega-3.
Although very rare, there are some potential side effects with omega-3 supplements, including bad breath, headaches or upset stomach. However, making sure your child sticks to the recommended dosage reduces the possibility of unwanted side effects.
Omega 3 For Kids: Conclusion
Omega-3 is essential to the healthy development of children’s brains. It may help to improve concentration and memory and aid kids’ learning.
However, not every child enjoys eating oily fish or seeds and nuts. Omega-3 supplementation alongside a balanced diet is one way to ensure sufficient omega-3 for your kids’ health.
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