"Only 22% of children are getting adequate
levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids"
I have written a lot of blog articles talking about nutritional supplements and healthy eating. These articles tend to reflect how my family lives and how our quality of life and well being have improved over the years. I have seen similar lifestyle changes help hundreds of my patients, with so many different ailments being alleviated. One of the changes I most highly recommend for all of my patients is an increase in consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. With all the information out there about omega-3’s, we are still seeing major deficits in the consumption of these essential fatty acids in our diet.
Essential Fatty Acids are nutritional cornerstones of human health. Two major families of fats are comprised under this designation, omegas 3 and 6. They are deemed "essential" because we need them for proper health—much like some vitamins and minerals—but cannot produce them on our own. We must therefore consume these fats through diet or supplementation. The World Health Organization recommends two servings of fish (particularly fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel) per week as the use of oils containing omega-3. Other experts recommend three to four servings of low toxin fish each week. So, it’s up to us to incorporate them into our diet. The typical Western diet is rich in omega-6. (Think corn, soy, peanut, safflower, and other oils.) As for the prevalence of omega-3, not so much. (Think fish, flax, algae, walnuts, and animal products from grass fed livestock, and wild game.)
I hate the words “back to school”; they have actually been outlawed in my house! However, it is that time of year and our children’s health and overall well-being are at the forefront of our minds. Although we are not a pediatric office, I have added a line of children's supplements for parents to give their kids. The supplement of utmost importance for getting children’s busy brains ready for school is an omega-3 supplement.
Omega-3s for Kids
"Omega-3 supplementation led to significant improvements in
inattention, hyperactivity, oppositional/defiant behavior, and conduct disorder."
Although we all benefit greatly from improved omega–3 nutrition, children have the most to gain from these essential fats. From infants to adolescents, children rely heavily on EPA and DHA for visual, brain and immune system development, and for normal emotional and cognitive function.1 Much of this has to do with the rapid growth of the brain in childhood. Unfortunately, recent research has also shown that only 22% of children get adequate amounts of these essential fatty acids. Along with a healthy diet that includes fish and fresh green leafy vegetables, supplementing with a premium fish oil product is the best way to ensure that families can begin to reverse this trend.
Research finds that:
• Omega–3 consumption in pregnancy may reduce the risk of allergies in children 1
• Omega–3 consumption in pregnancy may reduce the risk of colds in infants 1
• Omega–3 consumption may support learning 1
Another study found significant improvements in inattention, hyperactivity, oppositional/defiant behavior, and conduct disorder in adolescent males after 8 weeks of supplementation with EPA/DHA. 2
Despite the great health benefits of omegas, many individuals suffer from omega-3 deficiency, a little-known problem to most people, but one that is counted as the 8th leading cause of preventable death in the US, among dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors. 1 Omega-3 deficiency stems in large part from the growing unavailability of foods rich in these nutrients - principally fish - and because of the increasing popularity of the western diet worldwide. While most diets prior to the 20th century contained a decent balance of omega-3 and omega-6 rich foods, the typical western diet today contains far more omega-6. In fact, Americans have the lowest intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids of any developed country; the typical American diet contains 14–25 times more omega-6 than omega-3!
In our house it can be pretty challenging to get our children to eat the suggested omega-3 foods. To be honest wild caught fish is hard to find, not to mention hard to make tasty for picky eaters. If you read my blogs you're going to notice a common theme: Grass fed/wild caught/free-range or organically produced food as close to its natural state as possible is always best. Eating this way isn't easy or cheap. We can’t always find these things or be able to afford them for every meal. Kids often want easy grab-and-go foods, so they might not be getting the nutrients they need most days. I recommend exactly what I do: supplementing our diets with things we are not getting on a routine basis.
The children’s line of supplements we carry have no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives, and are made with non-GMO ingredients. Kids (and many adults) don't always love swallowing pills, that's why the supplements we carry are chewable and/or easily swallowed. In addition to a variety of children's omega-3 supplements, we also have a multivitamin, and a probiotic for kids which both come in fun and chewy gummies. My children and adolescent teens all have benefited from these and I highly recommend them for your children.
Feel free to give them a try - we have free samples for the month of August. Enjoy the rest of your summer and have a great to start to the upcoming school year!
1: Danaei G, et al. "The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors." PLoS Med 2009;6(4)
2: Van der Wurff, Inge S. M. et al. “Association between Blood Omega-3 Index and Cognition in Typically Developing Dutch Adolescents.” Nutrients 8.1 (2016): 13. PMC.