Omega 3 For Children

 

Omega 3 for Children

Getting the right nutrition from day one is vital to ensure your child’s mental and physical health can blossom. One important nutrient children need is Omega-3 – a family of fats which are essential for normal growth and development. These are healthy fats that the body needs to perform key functions. Some of them we can get from food, but the best sources of Omega-3 just aren’t kid-friendly.

Even if your child were to willingly eat a diet rich in nuts, flaxseed, green leafy veg an oily fish, they’d still only be getting the ALA (alpha-linoleic acid) member of the Omega-3 family. Our bodies use this to make two other fatty acids, called DHA and EPA, which have the most direct health benefits. The trouble is, this process is slow and yields only a small amount of each.

DHA and EPA are invaluable nutrients for the growing child. With busy lifestyles, convenience foods and fussy eaters, dietary supplements may be the only effective and reliable way to meet their requirements.

 

Development

DHA is an essential nutrient for the growing child. It’s needed from conception through to infancy for the normal development of the brain, spine, skin and eyes. Most of the fat in breast milk is DHA and infant formula milk is now fortified with it.

Moving from milk to solid foods, it becomes more difficult to make sure your child is getting all the fatty acids they need. With the added complication of a tendency for kids to be fussy-eaters, getting enough Omega-3 from diet alone becomes challenging. Nevertheless, the body’s high demand for the fatty acids remains. By the age of 2 years old, your child’s brain will already be around 80% of its eventual adult size.

As a child grows physically, DHA plays an important role in the brain – working as a sort of building-block to create cells and neurons. Throughout puberty and adolescence, it works to balance hormones and promote fertility. Meanwhile, EPA works as an anti-inflammatory to promote hydrated, healthy skin and prevent teenage acne.

 

Mental Health

The importance of Omega-3 to brain function can explain its role in mental wellbeing. Getting enough DHA can promote emotional health and reduce the likelihood of developing mental health problems.

In children, studies have shown that DHA supplementation is linked with lower levels of ADHD, Autism and Childhood Psychosis. It helps to regulate the process of brain cell turnover, encouraging the healthy regeneration of cells and protecting against damage. Studies in children have also shown that getting enough DHA promotes good memory and cognition, which positively effects a child’s ability to learn and retain information during school years. This also lowers the risk of developing reading-related learning disabilities.

In adolescents, Omega-3 fatty acids can help to prevent mood and anxiety disorders. Their use has been shown to have ‘psychotropic effects’ – meaning they can influence mind, behaviour and emotions. Both EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory properties, which protect the brain from damage and so lower the likelihood of developing a mental health problem.

 

Physical Health

Getting enough Omega-3 in the early years can help to build a healthy immune system by enhancing the function of immune cells. This is super important for children, as it is in the younger years that we are exposed to substances our bodies must grow immune to. If anything goes wrong with these cells at this stage, the immune system could potentially go into overdrive and start attacking and damaging its own cells – as seen in Type 1 Diabetes and Coeliac Disease.

Research has also shown that getting enough Omega-3 in childhood is a predictive factor for adult health. Meeting requirements during developmental stages has been linked with lower incidence of heart disease and metabolic disorders in later life. Because Omega-3 helps to build a healthy reproductive system in the teenage years, it also increases the likelihood of a normal pregnancy in later life.

 

Pure and Natural

Whilst fish oil is a good source of Omega-3, it is tainted with toxins such as microplastics, harmful chemicals and mercury. It is clear that none of these substances are intended for human consumption, let alone for the growing child. Research has shown that long-term fish oil supplementation can contribute to problems such as kidney disease, heart disease, insomnia and even cancer. Unfortunately, the consequences of consuming fish oil for children may outweigh the benefits of getting enough Omega-3.

At Bloom we’ve taken out the middle-man to extract DHA and EPA from their original and pure source – algae. Algae is where fish get their Omega-3 from in the first place, it is only when they have eaten enough that they become a good source themselves. When giving your child Bloom Omega-3 from algae you can be confident that they are getting the highest quality DHA and EPA, without exposing them to harmful toxins and pollutants.

 

References

Lauritzen, L., Brambilla, P., Mazzocchi, A., Harsløf, L., Ciappolino, V. and Agostoni, C. (2016). DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function. Nutrients, 8(1), p.6.

Boffetta, P., Merler, E. and Vainio, H. (1993). Carcinogenicity of mercury and mercury compounds. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 19(1), pp.1-7.

Richardson, A. (2003). The importance of omega-3 fatty acids for behaviour, cognition and mood. Food & Nutrition Research, 47(2).

Yon MA, Mauger SL, Pickavance LC. Relationships between dietary macronutrients and adult neurogenesis in the regulation of energy metabolism. Br J Nutr. 2013 May;109(9):1573-89

Kuratko, C., Barrett, E., Nelson, E. and Salem, N. (2013). The Relationship of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) with Learning and Behavior in Healthy Children: A Review. Nutrients, 5(7), pp.2777-2810.

Agostoni, C., Nobile, M., Ciappolino, V., Delvecchio, G., Tesei, A., Turolo, S., Crippa, A., Mazzocchi, A., Altamura, C. and Brambilla, P. (2017). The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Developmental Psychopathology: A Systematic Review on Early Psychosis, Autism, and ADHD. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(12), p.2608.

 

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