What is Omega-3 DHA?
Omega-3 is a group of essential fatty acids that are very important for vital functioning of the body. It is often necessary and recommended for all (including children) to take supplements of Omega-3, as it is difficult to find enough of the fatty acids in a normal healthy diet for the body to use. DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is one of the Omega-3 fatty acids that is the hardest to include in one’s diet, since very few foods contain a significant amount of DHA. DHA is derived from fish oils, with tuna oil having the highest natural concentration of DHA. While plant-derived forms of Omega-3 acids are available and more easily incorporated into a diet, they are not as efficiently converted by the body as DHA. At least 30% of brain matter depends on Omega-3 DHA, and the body stores most of its stockpile of DHA in the retina.
What are the benefits for children?
Fun fact: A very large component of human breastmilk is made up of Omega-3 DHA, which newborns rely on for brain, nervous system, and eye development!
Clearly, since Omega-3 DHA is one of the crucial fatty acids fed to newborns from the first moments of life, we can see how important it is to continue to incorporate this essential fatty acids into the diets of our children. Here are just a few of the benefits that research has shown for children taking Omega-3 DHA:
- Increased cognitive development – higher intelligence test scores, better hand-eye coordination, longer attention spans, etc.
- Promotes physical growth and brain development
- Lower incidences of ADHD, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes
- Naturally treats depression
Where can I buy Omega-3 DHA?
There are a few things you should be aware of when looking for the perfect Omega-3 DHA supplement for your children (or yourself).
- If you are vegan or vegetarian, be aware that most DHA supplements contain fish oil. You can purchase vegan-friendly options which are derived from algae, which has a high concentration of DHA as well.
- Check the ingredients! Make sure that you’re not buying something that contains a lot of “extras.”
- Check for purity of the fish oil! Carefully read the labels and/or do some research about the company to make sure that you’re getting the highest quality of fish oil that contains little to no mercury if possible. Good companies should put this on their labels – be wary if you don’t see it!
You can find Omega-3 DHA supplements specifically for children at any drug store or health food store. This month, Healthy Planet has the Carlson Chewable DHA for kids on sale for right around $10 per bottle – that’s 20% off the regular price!
About the Author:
Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.