Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that are required for normal body functions, from muscle activity to cell growth. As our body does not produce them in sufficient amounts, it becomes vital to consume them as a part of our daily diet. As the initial years of kids are very crucial for their overall growth and development, including omega 3 fatty acids in their diet is definitely required. Omega 3 for kids is important as it promotes brain health. Some research has also shown that omega 3 fatty acids help in managing behavioural and psychological conditions in kids because of their role in neurotransmitter function. There are 3 types of omega 3 fatty acids:
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Alpha linolenic acid (ALA)
EPA and DHA are found mainly in certain fish, where ALA is found in plant sources. Daily needs of omega 3 fatty acids depend upon age and gender. ALA is the only omega 3 fatty acid with specific dosage guidelines. Below is the dosage for kids recommended by NIH (National Institutes of Health)
- 0 to 12 months 0.5 grams
- 1 to 3 years 0.7 grams
- 4 to 8 years 0.9 grams
- 9 to 13 years (boy) 1.2 grams
- 9 to 13years (girl) 1.0 grams
- 14 to 18 years (boy) 1.6 grams
- 14 to 18 years (girl) 1.1 grams
Reasons to give omega 3 to kids:
Helps in brain development: Research has established a link between omega 3 fatty acids and brain development in early childhood. These healthy fats have amazing brain boosting power and play a vital role in enhancing memory and attention span. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered as critical brain foods that may counteract oxidative stress and inflammations, two drivers of cognitive decline. It also increases the concentration power in kids. Thus omega 3 for kids is more essential in early years of their life.
Eye benefits of omega 3: There are many clinical studies, that omega 3 fatty acids are essential for infant vision development. DHA and other omega 3 fatty acids are found in mother’s milk and also present in some formula milks to support eye development in infants. These essential fatty acids also help to protect an adult’s eye from macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome.
Benefits for skin: Omega 3 fatty acids are the structural component of your skin. They help in regulating the skin oil production, keep it hydrated, minimize the sign of ageing and also soften rough and dry skin. It neutralizes the effects of sun damage and improves sensitive skin conditions.
Fight depression: Omega 3 can easily travel through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood related molecules inside the brain, which may help in relieving anxiety and depression. It also helps in various mood disorders, such as postpartum depression, mood swings and stress in children and adolescents.
Improves sleep: Lower levels of DHA are also linked to lower levels of the hormone melatonin, which helps in sleep. According to a study child with lower blood levels of omega 3 fatty acids is at higher risk of sleep issues. So omega 3 fatty acids may improve the quality and quantity of sleep.
Helps in menstrual pain: Omega 3 fatty acids can reduce menstrual pain which occurs in the lower abdomen, and may be even more effective than any anti-inflammatory drug. So it’s good to provide a daily dose of omega 3 fatty acid to your growing girls.
Reduces the symptom of ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is most common disorders in kids, and is often treated with medication. However, omega 3 fatty acids are also proven effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD in kids by improving their attention, ability to focus and memory.
Reduce Asthma in children: Asthma is a chronic lung disease with symptoms like shortness of breath and coughing. Severe asthma attacks are caused by inflammation and swelling in the airway of the lungs. Omega 3 fatty acids may reduce the inflammation in the airways which can benefit those with asthma.
Reduces liver fat: Fatty liver is a condition where too much fat is deposited in the liver cell. Reducing the amount of fat in the liver by making changes in diet could help to restore liver function and improve the health of those with fatty liver. Several studies have shown that taking omega 3 may improve liver health.
Helps in inflammation: Inflammation is the body’s immune system response to an irritant like germs and bacteria. According to the studies, omega 3 fatty acids can reduce the production of molecules and substances which results in inflammation which can contribute to many chronic diseases.
Food sources of omega 3 for kids:
Fish: Fish is the main and the richest dietary source of omega 3 fatty acids. Fish mainly provides DHA and EPA fatty acids. Some fishes that are high in omega 3 fatty acids are: salmon (2260mg in one ounce), mackerel (4107mg per piece) and sardines (2205mg per cup).This is one of the best source of omega 3 for kids. In supplements, cod liver oil is the best omega fish oil capsules available in the market, but it is always advisable to use dietary sources. (Most essential herbs to consume everyday?)
Walnuts: Walnut is a rich source of plant based Omega-3 fatty acids, which aids in brain development and maintaining good blood flow to the brain. One ounce of it contains around 2542 mg of ALA omega 3 fatty acid. The B vitamins present in the nut increase memory and cognition. They are also high in calcium, magnesium, manganese, and antioxidants. Vitamin B, Omega3 and magnesium in walnuts contribute towards a healthier nervous system, and keeping the stress levels and irritability low. So we can say walnuts are the best source of omega 3 for kids. (What is the Ayurvedic Diet for immunity?)
Chia seeds: Chia seeds are also a plant based source of ALA omega 3 fatty acid. It has around 4915mg of ALA in one ounce. Also loaded with copper, phosphorus and zinc, all together helps in soothing inflammation, helps in brain functions, reduces acne and helps to keep skin radiant and healthy. Chia seeds also contain 9 essential amino acids. (Easy to eat nuts and seeds for immunity and brain?)
Flax seeds: Flax seeds are packed with essential nutrients. Along with omega 3 fatty acids (6388mg of ALA omega 3 fatty acid in one ounce), it is rich in protein and fiber which aids in digestion and weight management. (Foods and remedies for tonsils?)
Soybean oil: Soybean oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of soybean. It contains 0.923grams of ALA per tbsp. loaded with riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, folate and vitamin K. it is being used in many households for frying, baking and roasting. Vitamin K in it helps to maintain bone strength and reduces the risk of fracture. (Fats that are good for the body?)
Mustard oil: Mustard oil is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids (826mg per tbsp).according to a study one tbsp of mustard oil has an ability to boost your metabolism up to 25%. So next time when you cook your fish, remember to make it in mustard oil and get the double benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. (Easy to consume antioxidants everyday?)
Recipe for Paratha/ Tortilla with hidden veggies and herbs
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- ½ grated carrot and beetroot
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