Omega-3 helps in boosting memory power and improves immunity in kids. Apart from asthma and childhood obesity, it also helps in the treatment of behavioural disorders like ADHD and dyslexia.
By Monali Bordoloi
Omega-3 is required for proper brain and body functioning, hence these are also called “essential fatty acids.” There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids. They are popularly known as EPA, DHA and ALA. These are crucial for a child’s growth, metabolism and overall health. These fatty acids help the body absorb the nutrients. Apart from building immunity, Omega-3 is also vital for healthy brain function and vision.
According to an Oxford University study, a child’s ability to learn shows much improvement if the child eats Omega-3-rich food. Children consuming Omega-3-rich diet have better memory and reading capability. Omega-3 also helps in the cognitive development of the child. A clinical study further substantiates that children who are on Omega-3-rich diet have better hand-eye coordination, social skills and attention span. Those kids also scored better in intelligence tests.
Omega-3 helps in the treatment of the following conditions in children:
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Studies showed that children affected with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. When put on an Omega-rich diet, they did better in processing emotions and socialising. Omega-3 also helps these kids become more attentive and complete tasks. It also helps in managing other symptoms of the disorder like hyperactivity, impulsiveness, restlessness and aggression.
Type -1 diabetes
According to studies Omega-3 can fight many auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes. In this disease, the immune system of the kid mistakenly attacks its own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, thereby depriving the body enough insulin. Kids getting enough omega-3 during the first year of their life is said to have reduced the risk of many auto-immune diseases like type 1 diabetes.
Asthma and upper respiratory infections
There is sufficient evidence to believe that if expecting mothers take Omega-3-rich food, asthma and wheezing attacks in their kids can be reduced. Studies also proved a linked between omega-3 consumption and lower risk of asthma in children and young adults.
Due to poor eating habits, many urban kids these days suffer from obesity. Studies showed that the anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3 are proving to be beneficial in treating conditions like obesity in kids.
EPA and DHA Omega-3 are found mainly in certain fishes. The sources of ALA Omega-3 are mainly plant-based. We must get the required dose of Omega-3 from our diets as our bodies cannot produce the fatty acids in enough quantity.
Most seafood and fish like mackerel, tuna have lots of these fatty acids. But for those kids who do not eat fish, there are a number of other sources to take in Omega-3 fatty acids. However, experts say that combination of both plant and marine-based Omega-3 will benefit the child most. Kids can also get it from food commonly fortified with Omega-3 like peanut butter, orange juice, milk and yogurt. Parents are advised to consult with doctors before starting on Omega-3 supplement for children.
It’s important to note that a child doesn't need to have Omega fatty acids every day. The child should get the recommended amount over the course of a week or so. As they grow older, boys and girls may need a different dosage of Omega-3.
Parents must also note that the benefits of taking Omega-3 rich food will take time to show. For some kids, improvements could be seen sooner, within few weeks, while some kids show late improvements. Parents need to be patient and continue feeding the child with Omega-3 rich food even if improvements are not immediate.
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