A child's cognitive health and development is a concern for many parents and one nutrient that can have a significant impact on brain health is omega 3.
What are omega 3 fatty acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that are essential for human health.4 They are called “essential” because the body does not efficiently produce them from marine sources and they therefore must be obtained from the diet or supplementation.4 There are three main types of omega 3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).4 ALA is found in plant-based sources such as flaxseed and chia seeds, while EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel.4
Omega 3 and brain development in children
Research has shown that omega 3 fatty acids play a critical role in brain development and function, especially during early childhood.2 Brain development begins in the fetus during pregnancy and omega 3’s are essential for expectant and breastfeeding mothers to consume. DHA in particular, is essential for brain development and helps to maintain the integrity and fluidity of brain cell membranes.2 In fact, studies have shown that a lack of omega 3 fatty acids during early childhood can result in cognitive deficits and behavioral problems and may even increase the risk of developmental disorders such as ADHD and autism.2
Benefits of omega 3 for children
In addition to supporting brain development, omega 3 fatty acids can provide a number of other benefits for children, including:
- Improved cognitive function: Studies have shown that children who consume higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids perform better on tests of cognitive function, memory and attention.2
- Reduced inflammation: Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the brain and other parts of the body.3
- Better sleep: Omega 3 fatty acids can help to regulate sleep, which is important for children’s overall health and wellbeing.2
How to get omega 3 fatty acids in your child’s diet:
The best dietary sources of omega 3 fatty acids are fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel. However, there are other ways to get omega 3 into your child’s diet if they don’t eat fish. Some good plant-based sources of omega 3 include flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts.2 You can also find omega 3 supplements that are specifically designed for children. Children 6-12 years and upwards may utilise supplementation with guidance of a health practitioner, whereas toddlers will need to take children’s supplements. PhytoceuticsTM provides omega 3 supplements for children 12 years and older.
Purest Omega 3 may provide added benefit for a child’s cognitive development and health. This product has a TOTOX score (which measures oxidation), meaning it is one of the freshest and purest omega 3’s. Purest Omega 3 is sourced from wild Alaskan fish and delivers high potency EPA-DHA per capsule for optimal health and well-being.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that can have a significant impact on brain development and cognitive function in children. By including fatty fish and other omega 3 rich foods or supplements in your child’s diet, you can help to support their brain health and give them the best possible start in life.
- Kidd PM. Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids. Altern Med Rev. 2007;12(3):207-227. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18072818/
- Waseem Khalid, Poonam Gill, Muhammad Sajid Arshad, Anwar Ali, Muhammad Modassar Ali Nawaz Ranjha, Shanza Mukhtar, Fareed Afzal & Zahra Maqbool (2022) Functional behavior of DHA and EPA in the formation of babies brain at different stages of age, and protect from different brain-related diseases, International Journal of Food Properties, 25:1, 1021-1044, https://doi.org/10.1080/10942912.2022.2070642
- DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH. The Importance of Marine Omega-3s for Brain Development and the Prevention and Treatment of Behavior, Mood, and Other Brain Disorders. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 4;12(8):2333. https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu12082333
- Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(1):1-7. https://doi.org/10.3945%2Fan.111.000893
Article supplied by PhytoceuticsTM