According to a study published in Pediatrics in 2005, fish oil might be a good addition to a child’s diet for a number of reasons. This study suggested that learning problems and behavioural problems at schools might be directly related to the amount of essential fatty acids (as found in fish oil) in the child’s diet. By studying over a hundred children between the ages of 5 and 12, the study found that children improved their intelligence and behaviour within three months of consistent supplementation. In fact, this study proved to be so persuasive that some schools considered implementing a supplement program as a part of the UK school curriculum.
Why Does a Child Need to Take Supplements?
It would seem that children would be the least likely candidates for starting supplement regimens. With their high levels of health and energy, many parents think that their children are developing normally and that nothing more is needed so long as they are not sick. However, this could not be any further from the truth. Fish oil contains essential fatty aids, which are chemicals the body can not produce on its own. In order to ingest these nutrients, the child would need to eat foods that contain the essential fatty acids. With the introduction of processed foods and fast foods, this is becoming less and less the case. These foods contain little, if any, nutritional value, leading to essential fatty acid deficiencies.
When the Child is Still Growing and Developing
Though supplementation can begin when the child is of school age, this is not the only time when fish oil can be introduced. Pregnant women that take fish oil supplements during their pregnancy will more likely have children that score higher on tests and have more fully developed brains and nervous systems. This development reduces the risk of ADHD and other learning disabilities, while also helping to keep moods balanced and positive for the child. The mum can also help the child with their development by taking in supplements of fish oil when they are breast feeding. These essential fatty acids can also be fortified into a formula for the baby as well.
Adding fish oil and essential fatty acids to the regular diet for the child can aid in further development during the crucial younger years. Because the most growth in the brain and nervous system is happening in childhood, adding these kinds of supplements will allow the body to develop normally and to its fullest potential.
Helping ADHD Issues and Other Learning Disorders
Several studies have shown that using fish oil supplements in children with ADHD, dyslexia and ADD issues is nearly as effective and even more effective in some traditionally used medications like Ritalin. Because the supplements help the body with cellular function, it stands to reason that fish oil might be able to help with deficiencies that are leading to problems with attention. In the study published in Pediatrics, children that took the fish oil supplements showed increases in good behaviour, while those that took placebos did not show any improvement. When the children that were given the placebos were then given the fish oil, they began to have fewer problems with ADHD issues.
Boosting Test Scores for Your Child
In addition, the study showed that spelling and reading skills progressed as normal rates for those that were given a placebo for their supplement. But those that took fish oil noticed greater improvements in the same period of time. There were also boosts in the short term memories of those that took the fish oil supplements. With the improved brain function and ability to concentrate, children were able to recall words more easily and retain that information for longer periods of time.
How Much Fish Oil Should a Child Be Given?
Of course, the next question is how much fish oil a child should be given in order to see the kinds of results shown in this particular study. It is advised that children and adults have one portions of 500mg of fish oil perday. This can be given in the supplement form or via fish, nut, and seed sources. When the child is taking in primarily fish based sources of essential fatty acids, the amounts should be carefully monitored.
It is safe to conclude that fish oil is a safe and effective supplement to give to children that are still growing and developing. In those with ADHD or ADD issues, this supplement may be able increase the child’s attention and focus, while also improving their intelligence and test scores. It is important to note that fish oil supplements should be free of excessive levels of mercury to prevent any toxicity issues especially in the smaller bodies of children.
Adding fatty fishes like mackerel, tuna, herring, kipper, and salmon to the diet a few times a week can help to make your child another star pupil.