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Is Omega-3 Safe for Kids?

August 31, 2021 • Our Blog • General Health
Is Omega-3 Safe for Kids?
You may know about the health benefits of omega-3 for adults. Well, omega-3 helps kids stay healthy, too! Here’s how kids of all ages can benefit from taking omega-3s. So, can kids take Omega-3 for a healthier body and mind? Short answer: yes! Omega-3s are good for people of all ages, even infants in the womb. But just like any vitamin or supplement, many factors affect how much omega-3 you need and how you should ingest it. Let’s take a look at how omega-3s can help kids stay healthy!

What is Omega-3?

Omega-3 is a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are essential to our health — omega-3s help our brains build new cells, so we can absorb nutrients and develop our central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Omega-3 also promotes healthy retinal function in your eyes.  There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: 
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Because we can’t produce any of these fatty acids on their own, we must get omega-3s from food or vitamins. The best way to get EPA and DHA is through cold-water oily and fatty fish — common choices include salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring and mackerel. ALA is found in food like seeds and nuts (particularly flax seeds and walnuts) and some vegetable oils, like avocado or canola oil.

How Does Omega-3 Help Kids?

There are many ways omega-3 fatty acids improve the health of kids of all ages:
  • Support infant development: Omega-3s help develop an infant’s brain and retinas while in utero, and promote healthy weight gain and growth throughout the duration of the pregnancy. Parents who take omega-3s while chestfeeding continue to promote healthy newborn development.
  • Improve ADHD symptoms: Omega-3s affect cellular membranes in the nervous system, which helps improve your memory and attention span while limiting hyperactivity. Kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could alleviate symptoms by taking omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Boost school performance: Omega-3s can improve brain function — especially when it comes to verbal learning and memory — and increase activation of the prefrontal cortex. This can help kids fight impulsivity, improve their organizational skills, and boost neurotransmitter function for better moods and enhanced learning capabilities.
  • Potentially reduce allergies and asthma: The anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 could help treat and prevent conditions like asthma, upper respiratory infections, rhinitis, and eczema in kids under the age of 12. However, it’s important to note that researchers found this association with fish consumption, not necessarily omega-3 on its own.

If My Child Doesn’t Eat Fish, Can They Take Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement?

Luckily, children can take many kinds of supplements in order to get the omega-3 fatty acids they need. The general omega-3 dosage recommendations for kids are:
  • 500 mg total omega-3s from birth to 12 months old (the equivalent intake for a chestfed infant)
  • 700 mg ALA for kids 1-3 years old
  • 900 mg ALA for kids 4-8 years old
  • 1200 mg ALA for males and 1000 mg for females 9-13 years old
  • 1600 mg ALA for males and 1100 mg for females 14-18 years old
DHA and EPA come from fish or fish oil supplements, as well as algal oil (from algae) for vegan and vegetarian kids. If you choose to eat fish, it’s important to note that you should stay away from fish with high mercury levels like shark, swordfish, and ray. Some low-mercury fish include shrimp, salmon, catfish, pollock, and canned light tuna.  TIP: Salmon is a healthy, versatile fish that contains roughly 4000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving! If your kid is averse to fish, try sprinkling brown sugar on baked salmon or using salmon patties instead of beef or chicken patties. It’s important to always consult with a pediatrician before giving your kid omega-3 supplements. At Kids’ Health, we’ll help you make the right choice for you and your family. Contact us to visit our leading pediatric clinic in Beverly, Massachusetts, or schedule a telehealth appointment with us today!...