Monday, March 11, 2013


I've spent a lot of time researching Omega 3 supplements and their positive impact on children in the last year.
A version of my article was published in The Examiner on Friday, Brainfood for Children.
I wanted to share with everyone the rest of my research which was too long to be published in the Feelgood section.
I feel this is an area that is not taken seriously by parents and one that can make a massive difference to children's health.
Brainfood for kids

Research proves that fish oil tablets can boost a child's brainpower - but with so many products on the market, how do you know which one to choose for your child? Amy Vickers investigates

Children need Omega 3 for every stage of their development. It boosts their brains, strengthens their immune systems and lifts their mood. It is also claimed to improve behaviour, reduce anxiety and helps to improve language. Sounds too good to be true - yet scientific research continues to show impressive results.

As a parent, you're told to feed children oily fish twice a week, but this is easier said than done. Children like to eat plain foods with most baulking at the sight and smell of fish.
So how do we sneak these essential Omega 3 fatty oils into their bodies? Supplements is the simple answer. But with so many of them on the market, it's a minefield choosing the right one for your child. Do you go for the cheapest? Do you go for the highest in DHA, whatever that is? What's the difference between Omega 3 and 6? Why are some €5.99 and some €22? And how much Omega 3 should my child be taking anyway? In this article, I'll aim to explain all this.
One fact is certain, unless your child is a big fish eater, they are not getting enough Omega 3 to nourish their growing brains and bodies. When we learn something new, our brain cells try to send messages to each another but if the pathways aren't fully formed, children can end up frustrated at not being able to do something. To work to their full potential, brain cells need ongoing nourishment from Omega 3s (salmon & tuna are good examples) but if children are consuming too many Omega 6s (the oils and margarines found in crisps & biscuits) their brains can become sluggish, which can affect concentration, learning and behaviour. It's now known that up to sixty percent of the brain consists of fat, located in the membranes of neurons as well as the protective layers that cover them. Scientists have proven that as Omega 3 (and specifically DHA in the brain) is consumed and dispersed to the brain, the better the neurons can communicate.
If your child struggles to sit still for five minutes and has behavioural issues, it could be that their brains are malnourished of essential fats. When my eldest was starting school I worried that he wouldn't be able to sit still and absorb the teaching, so I decided to try him on a high strength Omega 3 product aimed at 5 year olds. I looked around at all the deluge of products and I was baffled by the amounts of DHA and EPA. Which one of these was more important for a hyperactive and sometimes oppositional child?

It turns out that a product high in EPA is good for getting them to learn and concentrate, especially if they have hyperactive tendencies - recommended in a dose of 500mg a day at around the age of 5. For under 5s, DHA is the one to focus on because it lays the foundations during the early years of rapid mental and physical development and can help to stabilise their nervous system. That's why many baby milk manufacturers are now adding DHA to their formulas.

I also discovered that you should avoid supplements that contain high doses of Omega 6 and cod liver oil, because today's kids already have a lot of these in their diet. Omega 6 is a bit like salt in that kids need a little of it, but too much is bad for their health. Thirty years ago parents were advised to give their youngsters an unpalatable spoonful of (vitamin A-rich) cod liver oil but now kids get a good supply of vitamin A from fruits and vegetables and too much can cause toxicity in the body.

After six months of trying every Omega 3 supplement on the market, talking to experts, reviewing all the scientific research and watching my three children develop rapidly after taking it, I wanted to share my findings from this research project with other mums. I'm not a scientist, just a busy mum-of-3 who has stumbled upon something lacking in modern diets that has made a difference to my kids. Most of my friends are now giving Omega 3 to their children with noticeable improvements. My ranking system is based on the listed nutritional values of EPA and DHA, relative cost per dose and the taste reactions of my own three children.

Our anecdotal study - and those of my friends giving Omega 3s to their kids - shows that pure Omega 3 supplements are best, particularly those high in EPA, if you have a child struggling with concentration. I watched my energetic boy turn into Picasso almost overnight, able to sit down and concentrate far better than I'd ever expected.

We also found that kids prefer a capsule - this was unanimous from my friends also. It's easier for them to pop it in their mouths and continue playing. Chasing them around the house to coax them into taking a spoonful of oil isn't much fun - and they gag when it's disguised in their juice. The capsules are also fresher: leading brand Minami, which makes MorEpa, refuses to make a liquid version because they claim that if air gets into the oil it breaks down the Omega 3 potency.
Unlike oily fish such as tuna and mackerel, supplements are harvested to be mercury-free (mercury is bad for children) and not all of them are made from fish oils - some are made from algea and olives. Sometimes the cheapest isn't the best, and don't believe all the hype on the bottles as often the packaging is quoting a "daily dose" which can be several capsules and still not provide a decent quantity.

As a general rule, it is advised to give your child around 500mg of Omega 3 every day; toddlers can take up to 700mg a day and this can go up to 900mg a day for 4 to 9 year-olds and 1200mg for pre-teens.
It's worth remembering, that children won't be harmed by Omega 3, they will only benefit. The upper limit of 3000mg is so high that it’s unlikely to ever be reached.

Breakout box:

Omega 3 is broken down into two critical parts: DHA and EPA.
DHA, short for Docosahexaenoic Acid, has an critical role to play in very early development - pregnant women are now encouraged to take Omega 3 supplements for this reason and it is recommended all through early childhood to support children's rapid development.
At about 5 years, EPA, short for Eicosapentaenoic Acid, becomes the more important Omega 3 because of its benefits for learning and concentration. Most of the fish oil treatments for ADHD rely heavily on EPA.

See next page....


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  2. Good sharing, Among Asians, consuming this fish name “Channidae Channa Striatus” and believed to provide one with good health. Through the study, science team learnt that the fish is rich in amino and fatty acids and provides medicinal healing for wounds and inflammation. Further research by the team led to the making of Chantiva, a natural remedy that aids in the healing of wounds, as well as the alleviation of muscular and joint pain, read more at:

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  4. Yes, Omega 3 is the best food for brain. It help your kids more clever. Charlotte


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