Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that cannot be product by our bodies, which means that we must provide these fatty acids through our diets. This polyunsaturated fat is vital to our general health and adults are recommended to consume 3 omega-3 rich foods every week to receive all of its benefits. Much recent research shows that this essential acid is not just important for adults, but it also provides evidence for the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the healthy development of children.
Omega-3 fatty acids are specifically integral to eye and brain development and are important for the parts of the brain that deal with learning, reasoning and memory. Omega-3 has also been shown to improve attention, brain function and self-control as well as improving reading, spelling and behaviour. It is often found that children do not get anywhere near their recommended intake of omega-3, which is why supplements have become increasingly popular, as deficiencies of omega-3 can lead to major problems with learning, memory, vision and behaviour.
What are the best sources of omega-3?
There are many different sources of omega-3 and the richest sources include oily and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. Lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in some seeds, nuts and vegetable oils, as well as some eggs, grass fed cattle like beef and certain products with added omega-3 acids.
Omega-3 & ADHD
Many recent studies have established a strong link between omega-3 fatty acids (along with other polyunsaturated fats like omega-6) and behaviour. These essential acids are important throughout the first 18 years of life as your child grows, because they are integral for intellectual development. Omega-3 has been shown to be particularly beneficial for children with attention deficit disorders and a lack of omega-3 can have a negative impact on the child's IQ, school abilities, academic performance and behaviour.
Research has shown that children with behavioural problems such as ADHD often show the major signs of low omega-3. Increasing levels of omega-3 has led to a reduction in the severity of certain behavioural and attention problems and has also shown a positive impact in children who experience reading difficulties.