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Smart Start Supplements

By on August 5, 2016
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As parents, we often question if we should give our children nutritional supplements or not. Although we do our best to help our kids meet the recommended daily allowances for all vitamins and minerals, their diets often fall short. 

Supplements can help fill these nutritional gaps and keep your children on track toward reaching optimal health. Here are some of the best to support a healthy brain and body.

Omega-3 DHA
The essential long chain omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in fish and fish oil supplements is crucial to brain and eye development in our early years and plays an important role in supporting optimal brain and vision function throughout adolescence and adulthood. Babies often get DHA from their mothers before birth, during breastfeeding following birth and through their diet after age two. But the average diet is often deficient in DHA sources, which is why supplementing with fish oil can be a great option.

Scientists from the University of Kansas found that infants fed DHA-enriched formula from birth to 12 months scored significantly better than the control group on several measures of intelligence conducted between the ages of three and six years old. Specifically, the children showed accelerated development on detailed tasks involving distinguishing patterns and learning rules and also performed better on two widely used standardized tests. Babies can also get DHA by taking small doses of fish oil from birth or by breastfeeding from their mothers who are eating a diet high in fatty fish or are taking a fish oil supplement.

During childhood, higher blood levels of DHA have been linked to better reading ability and memory performance in children. Scientists at the University of Oxford found that healthy kids, ages seven to nine, who underperformed in school showed improved reading and behavior after supplementing with 600 mg of DHA for 16 weeks. DHA helped improve reading performance in the poorest readers, so they could catch up with the other students in their grade level.

Low omega-3 intake during our growing years can also be linked to anxiety and hyperactivity. In addition, studies indicate that eating junk food fats during adolescence can have long-lasting effects on learning and memory during adulthood. Children can support their brain health by reducing their intake of saturated fats and junk food while increasing omega-3 intake. Healthy omega-3s actually undo some of the damage done to kids’ brains by junk food.

Phosphatidyl Serine
Another nutrient that supports children’s brain health is phosphatidyl serine. Phosphatidyl serine supports transmission of molecular messages from brain cell to brain cell, also known as thoughts and memories. In a study reported in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 200 mg of phosphatidyl serine improved children's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and short-term auditory memory. The children also experienced significant improvements in impulsive behaviors and short-term auditory memory.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D can also offer many health benefits for children. Some children struggle with middle ear infections that can be painful because of inflammation and fluid build-up. One-thousand units of vitamin D given to a child with a history of ear infections can reduce the risk of infections. Boosting vitamin D intake is a good idea even for children who don’t suffer from ear infections because many kids don’t get an adequate amount through their diet or from the sun.

Supplements, including the omega-3 DHA, phosphatidyl serine, and vitamin D, can make a big difference in the lives of our children by boosting brain health, reducing infections, and achieving overall wellness. Give your kids the gift of good health.


About Charleen Wyman

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