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Why Kids Need Omega-3s

By on September 30, 2015

About 30 years ago, researchers first suspected that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be lacking omega-3s. 

The most important omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 
The children with ADHD were much thirstier than the kids without ADHD, a common symptom of essential fatty acid deficiency. Around the same time as this finding, scientists discovered that DHA is a critical structural component of brain cells and actually increases their activity. 

Within the last decade, researchers have tried giving children small doses of EPA and DHA, and the results have been breathtaking. These fats really do support optimal performance and learning in children. One study of preschool children found their behavior improved dramatically when given fish oils. Toddlers who were given daily doses of omega-3s for just six weeks experienced dramatic transformations in behavior and learning abilities. Many had been disruptive or unable to concentrate. 

Another study performed by the same group of researchers discovered even more exciting results than the toddler study. About 120 children between the ages of 5 and 12 were included in the study. Many of these children had developmental coordination disorder (DCD), which results in difficulties with motor coordination, making them clumsy or awkward. DCD is closely related to dyslexia and ADHD. In some cases, these children are also disruptive.

After just 12 weeks, the group taking omega-3s made “highly significant improvements” in 12 out of 13 behavioral scales, including three diagnostic ADHD features—inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Their short-term memories also significantly improved. In some children, the rate of reading development tripled. The message is clear. Children’s brains must have the right fats for optimal focus and concentration, and the omega-3s found in fish oil support behavior and learning. It’s now easier than ever to provide your children with the omega-3s they need for optimal health. Just place half a teaspoon of lemon-flavored liquid fish oil on popcorn, pour it into yogurt or a smoothie or add it right into a sandwich. Your kids will never even know it’s there, but you’ll certainly see the results.

References

1) Stevens L.J., Zentall S.S., Deck J.L., Abate M.L., Watkins B.A., Lipp S.R., Burgess J.R. (1995) Essential fatty acid metabolism in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr, 62 (4), 761 – 8

2) M. M. Portwood, The role of dietary fatty acids in childrens behavior and learning. Nutrition and Health, 2006, Vol. 18, pp. 233 – 247

3) Richardson A.J., Montgomery P. (2005) The Oxford Durham study: a randomized, controlled trial of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in children with developmental coordination disorder. Pediatrics, 115 (5), 1360 –6

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