Omega-3: What’s the Deal? 

Tuesday 9th July 2024

Ever wondered what all the fuss is about Omega-3? These essential fatty acids are all the rage, and for good reason! Let’s dive in and find out why they’re so important for your little ones.


The Basics

Essential fatty acids are found in foods like fish and flaxseed, as well as in dietary supplements. There are three main types you need to know about:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): Found in nuts and seeds like walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): Found in oily fish like salmon, herring, sardines, and anchovies.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Also found in those same oily fish.


Why is Omega-3 Good for My Child?

It plays a huge role in your child’s growth and development. They’re crucial for brain health, vision, heart health, and immunity. Even unborn babies benefit from Omega-3, thanks to pregnancy nutritional supplements. Here’s the scoop:

  • Brain Power: Essential for brain development, especially in the early years – they help with memory, learning, and concentration. Studies show that infants who get enough Omega-3 perform better in cognitive tests.
  • Eye Health: These fatty acids are vital for proper visual development and function.
  • Asthma Relief: Supplementing with Omega-3 can help relieve symptoms of asthma like coughing, wheezing, and breathing problems.


How Much Omega-3 Do Kids Need?

Here are the daily recommended amounts for kids. Remember, food should be the primary source, with supplements as a top-up if needed:

  • 0 to 12 months: 0.5 grams/day
  • 1 to 3 years: 0.7 grams/day
  • 4 to 8 years: 0.9 grams/day
  • 9 to 13 years (boys): 1.2 grams/day
  • 9 to 13 years (girls): 1.0 grams/day


The best way to get what you need is through diet. Here’s what to aim for:

Oily Fish: Salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are nutrient-rich. Try to serve 2-3 portions per week.

Flaxseeds: Sprinkle these on cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal for a plant-based boost.

Walnuts: A handful of these nuts provides a good dose of all kinds of healthy fats.


What if My Child Doesn’t Like Fish?

No worries! If your child isn’t keen on fish, you’ve still got options:

Sneaky Chef: Get creative! Add chopped nuts or ground flaxseeds to smoothies, muffins, or pasta dishes.

Supplements: Consider a child-friendly Omega-3 supplement if dietary sources aren’t enough.


Does Omega-3 Help Kids with ADHD?

ADHD affects around 3-5% of all children in the UK, leading to difficulties with concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Studies have shown that Omega-3 supplements can have a positive impact on kids with ADHD, helping with these behaviours.


What’s the Minimum Age to Take Omega-3?

Most babies get enough Omega-3 from breast milk or formula in their first year. After that, it’s a good idea to consider supplements, especially as they start eating new foods and feeding gets a bit trickier.


Does Omega-3 Help Kids with Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects how people communicate, interact, and behave. It’s a spectrum, so it affects everyone differently. Some studies suggest that Omega-3 supplements might improve social communication in kids with autism, but more research is needed.


Final Thoughts

Omega-3s are a key part of your child’s diet, supporting everything from brain and eye health to heart and immune function. Whether through fish, nuts, seeds, or supplements, making sure your little one gets enough is a great step towards a healthier future.


Cheers to smart, strong, and smiley kids!