Omega-3 and Brain Development in Children

A child's cognitive health and development can be a concern for many parents and one nutrient that can have a significant impact on brain health is omega-3.
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In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the role of omega-3 in brain development, and how it can benefit children of all ages. Children 6-12 years and upwards may utilise supplementation with guidance of a health practitioner whereas toddlers need to take children supplements.

What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that are essential for human health.4 They are called “essential” because the body does not efficiently produce them from marine sources, and they therefore must be obtained from the diet or supplementation.4

There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).4 ALA is found in plant-based sources such as flaxseed and chia seeds, while EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel.4

Omega-3 and Brain Development in Children

Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in brain development and function, especially during early childhood.2 Brain development begins in the foetus during pregnancy and omega-3’s are suitable for expectant mothers to consume.

DHA in particular, is essential for brain development and helps to maintain the integrity and fluidity of brain cell membranes.2 In fact, studies have shown that a lack of omega-3 fatty acids during early childhood can result in cognitive deficits and behavioural problems, and may even increase the risk of developmental disorders such as ADHD and autism.2

Benefits of Omega-3 for Children

In addition to supporting brain development, omega-3 fatty acids can provide a number of other benefits for children, including:

  • Improved cognitive function: Studies have shown that children who consume higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids perform better on tests of cognitive function, memory, and attention.2
  • Reduced inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the brain and other parts of the body.3
  • Better sleep: Omega-3 fatty acids can help to regulate sleep, which is important for children’s overall health and well-being.2

brain development

How to Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Child’s Diet

The best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. However, there are other ways to get omega-3 into your child’s diet if they don’t eat fish. Some good plant-based sources of omega-3 include flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.2 You can also find omega-3 supplements that are specifically designed for children. PhytoceuticsTM provides omega-3 supplements for children 12 and older whereas for younger kids we suggest speaking to your doctor and considering child specific options.

Coyne Purest Omega-3 may provide added benefit for a child’s cognitive development and health for those from 6-12 years upwards whilst under supervision. Coyne Purest Omega-3 boasts a leading TOTOX score (which measures oxidation), meaning it is one of the freshest and purest omega-3’s. Omega-3 is sourced from wild Alaskan fish and delivers high potency EPA-DHA per capsule for optimal health and well-being.

Phytopure™ Krill Oil is a source of omega-3 derived from krill that is naturally found in Antarctic waters. Learn more about what krill oil is. The species of krill are packed full of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids which are recognised by the body because they are mostly attached to phospholipids, and thus result in higher cellular incorporation. Phytopure™ Krill Oil has no fishy aftertaste and yields a favourable vanilla scent which are available for those 12 years and older. Those between the ages of 6-12 years should consumer under supervision.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that can have a significant impact on brain development and cognitive function in children. By including fatty fish and other omega-3-rich foods or supplements in your child’s diet, you can help to support their brain health and give them the best possible start in life.

References
1. Kidd PM. Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids. Altern Med Rev. 2007;12(3):207-227. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18072818/
2. Waseem Khalid, Poonam Gill, Muhammad Sajid Arshad, Anwar Ali, Muhammad Modassar Ali Nawaz Ranjha, Shanza Mukhtar, Fareed Afzal & Zahra Maqbool (2022) Functional behavior of DHA and EPA in the formation of baby’s brain at different stages of age, and protect from different brain-related diseases, International Journal of Food Properties, 25:1, 1021-1044, https://doi.org/10.1080/10942912.2022.2070642
3. DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH. The Importance of Marine Omega-3s for Brain Development and the Prevention and Treatment of Behavior, Mood, and Other Brain Disorders. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 4;12(8):2333. https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fnu12082333

4. Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(1):1-7. https://doi.org/10.3945%2Fan.111.000893

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