While Omega 3 is essential to the human body for health and development, the body cannot produce it itself. Omega 3 is essential to brain development and functionality and extensive research has proven that in many cases of barriers to learning, there is a clear lack of essential fatty acids.
The Role of Omega 3 in Your Child’s Life
The most recommended supplement for children with ADHD and learning disabilities is undoubtedly Omega 3. Fish oil is the ideal source for this supplement as it is composed of polyunsaturated Omega 3 fats which are called EPA and DHA. The Omega 3 range is called essential fatty acids, and that’s just what they are. Why are they “essential”? Quite simply, the human body is unable to produce Omega 3 on its own!
Many studies have been carried out on Omega 3s and they have proven themselves to be extremely important for cardiovascular, immune system and brain functionality. Their 3 main functions make them extremely important supplements to any diet.
Functions of Omega 3:
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory.
- Plays a critical role in the makeup of cell membranes.
- Supports brain function.
It is interesting to note that 8% of the brain’s weight is made up of the EPA and DHA Omega 3s. The brain is also 60% fat! Due to the Omega 3 content in the brain, the cell membrane is actually more permeable which promotes neurotransmitter levels and the ability of cells to communicate with each other. It also helps with the development of connections between cells.
Closely related to Omega 3s, are the Omega 6s, which are also found in the brain. Sources of Omega 6 include wheat, corn, soy and similar grains. Omega 6 is quite different from Omega 3 in that it is pro-inflammatory and not as malleable. This means that the presence of Omega 6 can result in arachidonic acid which makes joints aches and also inflames blood vessels.
History Of Omega 3 In Our Diets
It is interesting to see how the production of grain (or lack thereof) throughout history has played a role in just how much Omega 3 and Omega 6 a person consumed. In the Stone Ages you could expect the Omega 6 and 3 ratios to be 1:1 as a result. When grain was introduced into our regular diets, the consumption of meat and dairy meant that fatty acid levels could be kept low. As more and more grain is used in our food supply, the Omega 3 to 6 ratio, has changed exponentially. It must also be noted that these changes in staple diets have also seen a wealth of additional issues such as heart disease, depressions, ADHD and even diabetes.
What can we take from this little bit of history? We can ascertain that EPA and DHA are essential for the development of brain and body. While we cannot completely change our diets, we can ensure that we supplement EPA and DHA to regulate and moderate the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios for healthier living.
Omega 3 Is Required For Intelligence And Cognitive Development In Infants
A developing brain shows a need for high DHA levels in order to develop in terms of intelligence and cognitive performance. In breast milk, DHA is found in much higher concentrations than in cow’s milk and research has shown that bottle fed babies have a much slower neurological development than those who are breast fed. On the other end of the spectrum, it must also be noted that Omega 3s have shown the ability to improve cognitive function in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s too. Supplementing Omega 3 in this type of situation may actually slow the onset.
Omega 3 For Depression
Studies over the years have shown that depressed individuals have lower EPA and DHA levels in their red blood cell membranes. Those who attempt suicide are often found to have a low DHA level. Depression is often relieved by supplementing 1000mg of EPA or even Prozac – in fact, 50% of people applying the treatment had positive results. It was found that combining the treatment boosted the response rate to 80%.
Omega 3 For The Treatment Of ADHD
There is strong evidence to suggest that fish oil is highly successful in the treatment of ADHD. Children with ADHD have lower levels of Omega 3 in their blood than children without ADHD. In most cases when ADHD sufferers are treated with fish oil, there is a significant improvement in terms of learning, hyperactivity and attention. Omega 3 is actually good for children with ADHD and without ADHD. Studies have been carried out to show that DHA promotes the growth of neuronal plasticity which improves the synaptic flexibility of the developing brain. It is assumed that this is linked to increased cognitive function and improved learning. Other studies have shown that supplementing Omega 3 can result in improved reading ability too.
In conclusion, Omega 3 fatty acids form an essential part in the development of your child’s brain. Due to the imbalance of the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio in our typical diets, it is important to ensure that your child’s diet is effectively supplemented. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in high concentrations in fish, avocado and nut oils, and flaxseed and similar. Dairy, meat and eggs provided by animals that graze on grass can also be a good source.
You can also acquire fish oil in capsules or as a liquid. In some cases, the fishy taste can be overwhelming – lemon and orange flavour can help to disguise the taste. To supplement your ADHD child’s diet, consider adding the fish oil to a smoothie, spreading it on peanut butter or similar. To prevent rancidity of your fish oil, always keep it in the refrigerator or freezer. Start your child early on a fish oil supplement to boost mood and brain development and to ensure that they get used to taking it consistently.
Biolink endorses the omega 3 supplements as provided by NeoLife and Amway. These were tested by prof Visser, University of the Free State for quality using both quantitative and qualitative analytic methods.