CAN KIDS TAKE OMEGA 3 SUPPLEMENTS?

Fish Oil is one of the popular supplements consumed across the globe. Fish oil supplements are famous due to the presence of omega 3 fatty acids. Necessity and benefits of omega 3 fats are well-established. Nutrition authorities like FSSAI, NIN, FDA have recommended that a diet should have an adequate intake of omega 3 fats in the diet of all including children.

Omega 3 fats have various crucial roles to play in our body. Three main essential omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). These fats cannot be synthesized in our body, so we must supply them externally to the body through  our diet. Dietary supplements can also be a great option because our body converts ALA into EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate is less. Fish oil supplements provides omega fats directly in the form of EPA and DHA.

As of now, we do not have specified recommended intakes of EPA and DHA but for ALA,  the average recommended amount as per National Institutes of Health, U.S. is

AGE GROUP

RECOMMENDED AMOUNT OF ALA / DAY

0-12 MONTHS

0.5 GRAMS

1-3 YEARS CHILDREN

0.7 GRAMS

4-8 YEARS CHILDREN

0.9 GRAMS

9-13 YEARS CHILDREN (BOYS)

1.2 GRAMS

9-13 YEARS CHILDREN (GIRLS)

1.0 GRAMS

14-18 YEARS BOYS

1.6 GRAMS

14-18 YEARS GIRLS

1.1 GRAMS

As per U.S. FDA,  the daily intake of omega fats should not be more than 3000 mg per day but in case higher doses are consumed to treat any medical condition, it should always be under the recommendation of a doctor. Let us understand the reasons why fish oil supplements are rewarding for children.

  1. A study was conducted by Bus DJ et al in 2015 to check the efficacy of fish oil supplementation among children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 650 mg of omega 3 fats in the form of EPA and DHA was given to 40 boys between 8-14 years of age. It was observed that symptoms of ADH disorder were reduced in children supplemented with omega 3 fats.
  2. Omega 3 fats are also good for children with bronchial asthma. This fact can be supported by another study conducted in 2000 by Nagakura T et al in Japan. 29 children suffering from bronchial asthma were supplemented with fish oil capsules for 10 months providing 84 mg EPA and 36 mg DHA. It was observed that with fish oil supplementation, symptoms of bronchial asthma due to environmental inhaled allergens were decreased.
  3. DHA is linked with adequate sleep health. It has been shown that our body needs DHA to regulate melatonin - the sleep hormone. Therefore, fish oil supplements might be helpful for children to improve sleep quality.
  4. DHA present in fish oil is also required for proper brain development. These days health drinks for children and pregnant women are also fortified with DHA. We need DHA to improve the cognitive functioning and improvement of the brain region responsible for memory, attention and planning.
  5. Fish oil supplements are also associated with improved vision health. The grey matter of the brain and outer segments of the retina contains a higher concentration of DHA. Therefore, DHA becomes a necessity to improve vision quality.   
    Hence it is obvious that fish oil supplements can be given to children. They play a significant role in improving brain and eye health of both children and adults. Fish oil supplements should not be given to children who are allergic to fish. Some children might face mild side-effects like heartburn, fishy burps, upset stomach or nausea. Dosage of fish oil supplements will vary in children depending upon the age and gender. Studies indicate that fish oil supplements containing 500-1000 mg of omega 3 can be given. In case of any medical condition, always seek doctor’s advice before consuming a fish oil supplement.

 

 REFERENCES

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (N.D) National Institute of Health. Referred from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/

DJ. Boss, B. Oranje. et. al. (2015) Reduced Symptoms of Inattention after Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Boys with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, PubMed. Referred from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25790022

T. Nagakurg, S.Matsuda, K. Shichiya. K, et al. (2000) Dietary supplementation with fish oil rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in children with bronchial asthma, PubMed. Referred from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11153584

PC, Calder. (2016) Docosahexaenoic Acid, PubMed. Referred from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27842299

 Res. J Sleep, (2014) Fatty acids and sleep in UK children, PMC. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4263155/

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