Fish oils are making a splash in the wellness world and are on the minds of the most health-conscious parents. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids (specifically DHA and EPA) that experts believe is important for child brain and eye development; and is something that your body can't naturally make.
The best source of omega-3 comes from oily fish. So unless your kids are happily gobbling up fresh, cold-water fatty fish like salmon or sardines a couple of times a week, fish oil supplements are a simple way to balance out a lack of omega-3’s in your child’s diet in a way fish sticks can’t.
Here are some ways fish oil can help support your growing minnows.
Development & Focus
Fish oil contains two specific long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids to help your little bubs with their development: Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA). Both are found naturally in the body as primary structural components of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, and eyes, and both are vital to brain development in babies. After the age of 5, though, brain development starts to slow down, so this is a perfect time to increase your children’s intake of DHAs and EPAs with a fish oil supplement. Some small studies have shown that children with reading difficulties have shown significant improvement after taking fish oil, but it is important to note that other studies have shown no difference, so results are not definitive. However, it is safe to say that the DHAs and EPAs in fish oil can support your child’s brain and eye development, as well as potentially help their memory and vision.
Interestingly, children with ADHD are more likely to show physical symptoms of low omega-3 like dry skin and hair, and excessive thirst. They’re also more likely to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood than kids without ADHD. That’s not to say that a fish oil supplement is a miracle ADHD cure, but some studies have shown that increasing omega-3’s helped some children control the symptoms of their ADHD better: hyperactivity was reduced, focus and attention spans were improved, and behaviour was improved.
Remember EPAs and DHAs, the polyunsaturated long-chain fatty acids that are integral to brain development? Well, they also act as anti-inflammatories: studies have shown that altering the fatty acids in cell membranes can help reduce inflammation in the cells. Researchers decided to see if this could help reduce the inflammation in the airways in children with asthma by conducting a small study of 29 children over the course of 10 months. They found that the kids taking fish oil did show reduced symptoms, however, the study was too small to be considered definitive evidence. Regardless, fish oil supplements will not harm your children (unless they’re allergic to fish/shellfish), so it’s worth trying them out.
So, how do you make a kid take fish oil?
Well, it depends on the kid. Fish oil comes in three variations: liquid, gel caps, and chewable softgels. Liquid is the easiest for the body to incorporate, so they’ll get more nutrients, and it comes in fun flavours like chocolate and orange to make it a more palatable. If the consistency is an issue, you have the gel cap option, but kids might have a tough time swallowing them. The chewable softgels are a pretty great ‘best of both worlds’ solution: they also come in fun fruit flavours, plus they’re soft gummies so you might just be able to convince your kids they’re getting a treat!