How Omega 3 Fish Oil Can Help Your Children
Part of being a parent is learning to accept our children as individuals with their own free will and personality, while guiding them to make good choices. This includes the choices they make with their diet, and it’s a really tough one. Most children would happily live off junk food and it’s much easier to let them eat what they want than to have dinner table battles.
There is one critical thing we should all do as parents though, it’s pretty easy and will arguably have the greatest impact on their overall health and happiness. We need to make sure they have enough Omega 3 in their diet.
Omega 3 is known as an essential fatty acid, essential means that we need it for our bodies to function properly but we can’t make it on our own – we have to eat it. The two most important types, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found mostly in oily fish like sardines and mackerel.
Our brains are 60% fat, of which 20% should be DHA. During pregnancy and infancy, insufficient intake of DHA has been shown to greatly impact the development of babies’ brains. From week 28 onwards in pregnancy, baby’s brain grows by an astonishing 260% so it’s crucial that the mother has adequate DHA intake during this time.
A very large study* looked into the effect of Omega 3 on the behaviour, working memory and reading of healthy children aged between 7 and 9. After 6 weeks of taking a DHA supplement, they found that the children with below average reading ability (under the 20th centile) showed significant improvements.
Children are increasingly suffering from mental health problems
We don’t often think of children as suffering but statistics from the ONS state that 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that is around three children in every class. Between 1 in every 12 children deliberately self-harm and there has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital as a result. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68%.
In October, Childline reported a sharp rise in suicidal thoughts among young teenagers. The role of social media and bullying was mentioned as a potential factor, however there was absolutely no reference to the diets these children are eating. If you consider that the average sugar intake for a teenager in the UK is about 16% of their daily caloric needs, and that’s an average so there are a lot of kids eating way more, they have terribly nutrient deficient diets and their brains are literally starved of what they need to be happy and to cope with the stress of being a teenager. This is what we need to work on, it’s madness that a fundamental driver of children’s happiness is totally overlooked by health professionals.
Can you tell if your child has Omega 3 deficiency?
One way to find out is by doing a blood test, there are finger prick tests available for around £50 or you can go to a registered nutritional therapist who would arrange a larger sample to be taken with a needle. There are other tests which can be done to ascertain Omega 6 levels and also any issues with fat metabolism. However, unless your child is particularly ill or you have a serious concern this is probably too intrusive and unnecessary. Often the best way to tell is to give your child a good quality, high DHA supplement and track changes over a few months.
You can also make a pretty good guess as to whether your child doesn’t have enough Omega 3 based on the following:
How often does your child eat oily fish? The average weekly intake for the majority of children in the UK is really negligible. Those fish fingers with added Omega 3 don’t really count unfortunately!
Does your child eat a lot of processed foods or foods that are likely to contain high levels of Omega 6 fats, such as crisps, biscuits or chocolate bars?
A really telltale sign is the little bumps on the back of the arms (keratosis pilaris) and many parents report that these vanish after a few weeks of Omega 3 supplementation. Other pointers include:
- Eczema, other skin conditions, dandruff and itchy scalps
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty with reading
- Behavioural issues such as hyperactivity, aggression, outbursts and a general lack of calm
We have teamed up Bare Biology to give away a family gift box worth £137.50 to giveaway including Lion Heart Liquid, Mini Caps, Bump & Glory and Super Hero.
Melanie Lawson is the founder of Bare Biology Omega 3.
A few years ago, Melanie was searching for a great quality Omega 3 for herself and her children but struggled to find a product that ticked all the boxes. Melanie overcame post-natal depression through diet and high dose fish oil and her personal battle with OCD and anxiety make her a firm believer in the power of Omega 3 on our mood.
Bare Biology fish oils for adults, children and pregnancy are stocked in Liberty, Space NK, Whole Foods and other retailers and online at www.barebiology.com
Editorial Note: We were not paid for this article – we genuinely love the products and ethos behind Bare Biology, and were delighted to invite Melanie Lawson to tell us all about the benefits of Omega 3 for children.