Why kids need Omega-3

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There has been a lot written about the benefits of omega-3 essential fatty acids for adults. For instance, the value they play in heart, joint and brain health. However, the importance of omega-3 extends to childhood. In fact, the need for omega-3 begins during pregnancy, where extra supplementation by the mother can even enhance hand and eye coordination in the toddler years.

During childhood, the brain and nervous system undergoes rapid growth and development. Omega-3 fatty acids support this growth, as well as normal brain and nervous system function. It’s recommended that children aged one to three years obtain at least 40mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day, four to eight year olds 55mg and children nine to thirteen years at least 70mg.

Studies have also shown that omega-3 may be beneficial for learning and memory, as well as attention and behavior in some children. A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids may lead to learning and behavioural problems.

If possible, children should obtain the omega-3 they need from natural food sources such as fish. However, children should avoid eating fish that may be high in mercury, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. If you feel that your child may be deficient in omega-3, a fish oil supplement may be of benefit. Speak to your healthcare professional for about which supplement would be best for his or her individual needs.

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Published February 19, 2015
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