Fish Oil for Kids: How Omega-3 Affects Kids’ Brains & Behavior
Essential nutrients, by definition, are compounds vital to the body’s health – ingredients that it cannot make or produce in sufficient quantities. These items must come from food or supplements. One essential nutrient that seems particularly difficult to consume, especially for kids, is omega-3.
One of the best omega-3 sources is seafood. But with the risk of high levels of mercury, fish oil supplements are often the best option. The omega-3s in fish oil contain healthy fats, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). While it may seem like fish oil is a “grown up” supplement, an omega-3 deficiency in your child’s diet can have a substantial effect on their behavior.
Fish Oil for Kids: ADHD and Squirminess!
On first glance, the amount of science behind the relationship between omega-3s and child behavior can seem overwhelming. In particular, omega-3s seem to have a substantial impact on the behaviors of boys, as well as girls, diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
While ADHD is a relatively new phenomenon, so is asking children to sit still and remain sedentary for such a large part of the day. So, what constitutes ADHD? Isn’t it just a squirmy kid who won’t sit still? Nope! It’s much more, and often beyond the scope of a child’s ability to control.
ADHD symptoms include:
- Short attention span
- Easily distracted
- Impulse control issues
- Trouble focusing
- Difficulty beginning (or finishing) tasks
- Need to constantly be in motion
- Difficulty controlling emotions, including angry outbursts
If your child shows a few of these symptoms, but not all and only occasionally, you may have what’s known as... a kid! In all seriousness, most children exhibit at least some tendency toward distraction or inability to focus – at least every once in a while.
Whether your child has ADHD or simply “Squirmy Kid Syndrome,” a lack of omega-3s may be part of the cause behind their behavior.
Research Behind Omega-3s for Kids & Behavior
First and foremost, talk to your pediatrician about concerns of your child’s behavior, including options such as adding a DHA/EPA supplement. As for how omega-3s impact children’s brains and behavior, the studies are impressive.
A recent study conducted in The Netherlands evaluated the effects of DHA on boys with and without ADHD. The double-blind random study had boys with and without ADHD in both the control (placebo) group and the group given DHA over a course of 4 months.
In both ADHD and non-ADHD boys in the group provided DHA supplements, parents reported a significant improvement in their sons’ attention problems. Additionally, cheek swabs indicated higher levels of omega-3 markers after the test in those given the DHA.
Repeated studies have established patients with ADHD have substantially lower levels of omega-3s in their blood levels.
Additional studies conducted by the Department of Criminology at the University of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have shown repeatedly that omega-3s can improve aggressive behavior in children.
Omega-3s for Kids: Long-Term Benefits
Omega-3s for kids, such as DHA and EPA, are critical to managing behaviors and promoting healthy cognitive abilities. Adding an omega-3 supplement to your child’s nutritional habits could set them up for excellent brain health throughout their life. Additionally, taking a children’s omega-3 supplement has a very low risk of side effects while offering many positive long-term benefits, including: social skills, learning, memory, and lowering the risk of developing age-related cognitive decline.
Learn more about the research behind Kid's Chewable EPA/DHA Plus, a pharmacist-formulated blend containing concentrated levels of DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids known to be essential for optimal brain health.