Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Studies Show Increase in Child’s Omega 3 Intake Improves Attention, Focus and Behavior
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I’ve always heard of the age-old habit of taking fish oil. And the idea alone has always made me a little more than queasy. I take that back, merely combining the words fish and oil has always made me queasy. But after studying up on omega 3’s and what they can do for me, and more importantly, my kids, I think they may have made a believer out of me yet.
For me to really be invested in adding a new eating habit, I like to understand what it is and what it can do to me or for me. So I’ll start with what are omega 3’s? Omega 3’s are fatty acids. That probably doesn’t help a whole lot as far as understanding goes. Fatty Acids are essential to cell makeup, which is what your whole body is made up of. They are found in the bloodstream and heart. Also research shows that around 60 percent of the brain is made up of fats and of that 60 percent, 40 percent are linked to fats from omega 3’s. So they are a huge component of the brain.
Next, and probably more importantly, what does it do? What are the benefits? And since we are all usually more concerned with our children’s health than our own, what can they do for my child? Since they are such a huge part of the brain, it’s safe to say that it plays a huge role in brain development and function. This is why so many formula companies tout the presence of DHA (one of the omega 3’s) in their products. A study performed in England demonstrates one of the omega 3’s most intriguing benefits. Through blood tests, they found a correlation between low levels of omega 3’s in the bloodstream and increased struggles with learning and behavior in school. In a separate study, researchers added fish oil (omega 3’s) to the diets of children struggling with learning difficulties like dyslexia and ADHD. After six months, these children showed improved self-esteem, memory, perception, and reading and writing skills. They showed a decrease in disruptive behaviors. More studies have been done with similar results.
Getting Your Kids To Take Fish Oil
If you have a child suffering from a learning disability or they just seem to have your run of the mill issues remaining focused, the idea of boosting their intake of omega 3’s probably appeals to you. But let’s be honest, they’re probably more against the idea than I was. So here are some tips to help get your kids to take fish oil or at least boost their intake of omega 3’s.
Flavored Fish Oil
We usually associate fish oil with a smelly substance that has a habit of coming back on you later. But because of its long list of benefits, people have been getting creative. Some companies have developed lines of oils with more pleasant tastes like lemon or orange to disguise the flavor. One parent recommended Barlean’s Omega 3 fish oil for her child. It has a lemon zest added to it so it tastes like lemonade and you can’t even taste the fishy flavor. You can try it out here or find it below.
Omega 3 Gummies
You can also try Omega 3 gummies. Some children love the flavors and have an easier time chewing them rather than taking the liquid. This option can be great for your child’s oral sensory receptors, especially if they like to suck on their clothes, chew their pencils or enjoy extreme flavors. However, some doctors recommend or prefer the liquid option because it provides a higher level of vitamins (Omega 3s) for a fidgety child. Watch the labels to make sure your child is getting the right amount of Omega 3s they need.
Through the Skin
Another method several people suggested for children who refuse to taste it is to absorb the nutrients through the skin. Omega 3’s are readily absorbed through the skin. It’s suggested that you apply it to the bottom end of your child. The downside to this method is that fish oil is known to stain clothes. And if you have a child that’s sensitive to smells, they may be just as resistant to this method as they are taking it internally.
Mix It Up
Because the doses necessary aren’t that large, it’s easy to mix them in with other stuff. You can try mixing it in with a smoothie, hiding it under the condiments on a sandwich, or blending it with yogurt or even honey. Basically, you can get as creative as you want with this. Find something they like that has a strong enough flavor to cover up the taste and for those Sensory Processing Kids, the texture.
If your child is old enough to swallow pills, capsules might be the way to go. This helps them get it down without ever having to taste it and hopefully even smell it. Some capsules are still known to give you fish burps, but there are some that don’t if you look into it.
Sometimes there’s just no convincing them. Or maybe they have an allergy to fish. Theoretically, those with seafood allergies should be able to handle fish oil, but to stay on the safe side and to appease the obstinate, there are other options out there to introduce omega 3’s into their diet. Flax seeds or flax seed oil is a good start. They can be mixed in with other foods like the fish oil can. Eggs, milk, juice, yogurt, bread, oatmeal and other similar items can many times be sold fortified with omega 3’s, so check out the labels on those food products. Some nuts such as walnuts and cashews have stores of omega 3’s. Dark leafy green vegetables like spinach, Brussels sprouts or kale also contain them.
Omega 3’s are vital to a long list of health factors. It’s also important to note that they aren’t produced naturally anywhere in the body so our diets are the only way to get these vital nutrients. And trust me, the benefits are worth the effort.
Fish oil recommendations below.
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10 Oct 2016 - Nutrition