The benefits of eating enough Omega oils are huge. First Vitality tells you why and how you can ensure your child gets what they need.
"Current Research studies have been focusing on the link between essential fatty acids and brain development - studies indicate a link between Omega 3 intake and intelligence"
You may have heard of the link between Omega 3 & essential fatty acids and children's intelligence an behaviour. There is mounting evidence to suggest that children who eat a diet containing sufficient omega 3s are better behaved, more intelligent and even show lower levels of allergies.
Whether you have a baby or a child studying for GCSES/A Levels or at University - Here's how to make sure they get enough omega 3 and we can also help you choose the right one too. If you'd like to discuss any of the subjects raised in this section please contact us
Isn't Fat bad for you?
Two fats which are essential to good health are called Omega 3 & Omega 6. They belong to a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids known as "Essential Fatty Acids" or EFAs. These fats are vital for good health and normal growth.
The are called "Essential" because the body cannot manufacture them, or store much of them and have to be taken through the diet. In other words, they have to be eaten regularly.
To make matters a more complicated - Omega 3 & 6 only keep their status as "Good Fats" when eaten in the right sort of balance. The typical Western diet contains too much Omega 6 and too little Omega 3. That's way we need to increase our intake of Omega 3 in isolation, as our Omega 6 intake is normally sufficient.
How can Omega 3 help my child's development?
Omega 3 has a number of important roles in the human body throughout life. Every cell membrane in the body uses it, it also plays an important role in maintaining good cholesterol levels and it's also used by the brain and eyes for good functioning. Approximately 30% of the dry weight of the brain consists of fat from Omega 3.
Studies have shown a link between omega 3 intake and intelligence in children.
In addition, various studies show the behaviour of children with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has improved with omega 3 oils.
Performance in reading and spelling of underachieving children picked up when their diets were supplemented with omega 3. And, so did their concentration and behaviour.
Which foods contain Omega 3?
There are different forms of Omega 3, the most important being EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid) both of which are found in oily fish.
EPA & DHA are the most potent and bio-available forms of Omega 3.
The third form of Omega 3 is called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is found in dark leafy vegetables, flax & hemp seed oils and some vegetable oils. The body has to convert ALA to EPA, but this process is very inefficient - research shows that as little as 2% of ALA can be converted to EPA. This is why we are advised to eat oily fish to top up the body with the omega 3 we need.
Sources of Omega 3 ALA include hemp, flax and pumpkins seeds/oils and walnuts, spinach, beans and tofu. Look for freshness, as Omega 3 ALA is notoriously delicate and fresh is best. If fish oil isn't an option, then Barlean's supply one of the best organic Flax Oil ranges you can get.
Can't Fish contain toxins/heavy metals/dioxins?
Our children have the potential to benefit from a diet rich in Omega 3 EPA & DHA, however, our seas are polluted with heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead. Cancer causing chemicals Dioxin and PCBs are regularly found in the meat of fish.
But with care, it's actually easy to increase the amount of fish you feed your children, without compromising food safety:
- The richest source of omega 3 EPA are oily fish such as herring (sardines, mackerel and anchovy), tuna, trout and salmon.
- but don't forget!
- The cleanest, easily available, fish of the sea has to be the herring family e.g. sardines, mackerel and anchovy. These small, short lived, silver fish eat a diet of algae and are at the lower end of the food chain. Fish such as Salmon and Tuna eat other fish and/or live for years in the sea and are therefore more likely to contain contaminants such a heavy metals and dioxins.
How do I choose a good Quality Fish Oil?
When selecting the best fish oil product it's important to remember the following:
- You-get-what-you-pay-for when buying Omega 3 fish oil supplements. If it's cheap, then the contents will be cheap.
- Buy a Pharmaceutical grade oil. But be careful, this is an over used phrase - ask what this actually means?
- Choose a fish oil which is sourced from herring, these are the cleanest fish used in fish oil production today. If the bottle doesn't state the fish source then it probably isn't made from herring!!
- Do not choose Cod Liver, Halibut, Tuna or Salmon oils as these fish are larger fish and therefore more likely to contain heavy metal contaminants.
- Choose an oil sourced from cold Artic/Antartic waters
- Check the omega 3 content listed on the bottle to ensure that you're buying omega 3 and not just oil with a bit of omega 3 in it.
Omax3 or Omega Berry is only made from herring to ensure the cleanest source of oil.
Are Omega 3 enriched foods a good source?
There are a number of food products on the market which are "enriched" with Omega 3. Many don't contain particularly significant levels of Omega 3 and some may contain other ingredients that aren't wanted such a colourings, sugar, sweeteners etc.
- Check the source of the Omega 3 (some only contain the vegetable source of Omega 3 ALA)
- Examine for actual content of Omega 3 EPA or DHA.
- Check other ingredients used in the product
My Child refuses to eat Fish, what can I do?
There can be a number of reasons why your child isn't getting enough Omega 3, here are some solutions:
- Vegetarian or Vegan - Sources of Omega 3 ALA include hemp, flax and pumpkins seeds/oils and walnuts, spinach, beans and tofu. Look for freshness, as Omega 3 ALA is notoriously delicate and fresh is best. Barlean's supply one of the best Flax Oil ranges you can get.
- Doesn't like fish - try a smoothie. The new Omega Berry range from Biocare
The Calm-down Diet
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Just a month after starting a healthy diet instead of eating junk food, disruptive pupils at a special school began to calm down. They were able to concentrate on lessons for the first time and gradually became more sociable.
They also found more energy and showed a growing self-confidence, according to research for a T.V. documentary. The remarkable turnaround suggests that poor nutrition could be the key to a discipline crisis in schools, say food scientists. More...
About Fatty Acids
acids play a major role in the structure and function of the brain. They are crucial
for normal brain function and play a critical role in a wide range of brain and
body functions. However, truly essential fatty acids (EFA) which include Omega-3
cannot be synthesized by the body and must be provided through the diet. The other
highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) that the brain needs can usually be synthesized
from EFAs, but factors such as lifestyle, disease, restrictive diets and over-processed
foods, smoking and drinking coffee and alcohol mean that most people, both children
and adults are lacking in these important nutrients.
of a lack of theses important nutrients include:
- Physical signs of
fatty acid deficiency (excessive thirst, frequent urination, rough or dry skin
and hair, dandruff, and soft or brittle nails)
- Allergic tendencies (especially
- Visual symptoms (such as poor night vision or sensitivity to bright
light, and visual disturbances when reading - e.g. letters and words move, swim
or blur on the page)
- Attention problems (distractibility, poor concentration
and working memory)
- Emotional sensitivity (especially excessive mood
swings or undue anxiety)
- Sleep problems (especially difficulties in settling
at night and waking in the morning)
- More Information
Omega 3 isn't Medication
have been asked many times whether high EPA oils are safe and whether they have
any side effects* The answer is a simple no, our ranges of pharmaceutical
grade fish oils are natural foods and safer than many of the other
foods in your store cupboard!
The only likely side-effects from fish oils
would be gastric intolerance, to guard against this, you should gradually build
up your dosage (if taking larger doses). Also, as fish oil is a natural and effective
way of thinning the blood care should be taken if used in conjunction with blood
thinning drugs (e.g. Warfarin) although this doesn't preclude their use they should
only be taken in consultation with a medical professional.
Always read the instructions supplied with the product and check with your doctor before use if you are on medication or under medical supervision.