Omega 3 And Children Archives

Low birthweight babies can develop Ischemic Heart Disease in later life

As part of our commitment to writing his website we like to stay up to date with the latest news about Omega 3 fatty acids, and to examine some of the latest studies which have been published.

Often we find that new studies published on the role of Omega 3 in health tend to confirm some of the older studies, so often it is not new news, though is certainly encouraging. For example there have been studies recently confirming the importance of Omega 3 in good eye health, on which we have reported before.

But a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of paediatrics in February 2012 examines an area that we have not seen examined before.

In this study, undertaken at the University of Sydney in Australia, the role of Omega 3 fatty acids in helping reduce the risk of Ischemic Heart Disease in people who were born very small, was studied.

Babies who are born small, particularly within the bottom 10th percentile birthweights, tend to have a greater risk of developing Ischemic Heart Disease in later life.Low birthweight babies and Omega 3

In the study it was observed that “Impaired fetal growth is an independent cardiovascular risk factor and is associated with arterial wall thickening in children.” In other words low birthweight babies suffer from increased risk of cardiovascular disease resulting from thickening of the arterial walls from early atherosclerosis, or the buildup of fat on the walls of the arteries and the hardening of the arteries.

The study sought to determine whether or not supplementation with Omega 3 supplements would help reduce the increased risk of Ischemic Heart Disease.

In the study 616 children who are already taking part in an asthma prevention study were given, variously, a 500 mg fish oil supplement from the start of bottlefeeding, together with canola-based margarine and cooking oil, up until the age of 5.

The second group did not receive the fish oil supplements, but received a 500 mg sunflower oil supplement together with margarine high in Omega 6 fatty acids and cooking oil.

At the age of 8 all of the children were tested for thickening of the arterial walls. This early thickening is an indicator of subsequent cardiovascular disease.

Of those who did not receive the Omega 3 fish oil supplements, the children with low birthweights still demonstrated thickening of the arteries. This was not the case for those who were given the Omega 3 fish oil supplements.

The study concluded that “The inverse association of fetal growth with arterial wall thickness in childhood can be prevented by dietary Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation over the first 5 years of life.” However it was also observed that, as is usually the case, further study was also warranted to confirm the findings.

This is the first time that we have seen a study examining the effects of Omega 3 fish oil supplementation on children with small birthweights, and the first time we have seen evidence that those children may help reduce the risk of Ischemic Heart Disease later in life by Omega 3 supplementation early in life.

Where subsequent studies become available examining this particular health issue which bring them to you.


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The development of baby vision is one of the most important aspects of growing up

There is little doubt that the essential fatty acids known as the Omega 3 fatty acids, and in particular DHA, are important for vision. DHA is a significant component of the retinal rods in the eye, and research is showing that providing adequate DHA in the diet is important for both the development of baby vision as well as for protecting against macular degeneration amongst the older generation.

In the early years, and in particular from birth to the age of 3, the development of the eye and therefore of vision undergoes huge changes. In that period of 3 years the size of the eye in an infant increases to 3 times what it was at birth. By the age of 3 retinal tissue, or in other words tissue that makes the eye function, is mature. And the development of vision which includes of course other factors such as eye hand coordination, continues as the infant gets older. The development of baby vision is, of course, essential to all facets of life.

Part of the structure of the eye includes what are known as retinal rods. These contain very high levels of DHA with parts of these rods having more DHA content than any other cell in the body.Improving baby vision

If the infant receives sufficient quantities of DHA throughout his or her early developmental years vision will develop properly, however if there is a deficiency in the amount of DHA in the diet this will result in these infants requiring a greater amount of light stimulation to achieve the same level of visual response as those who have had an adequate supply of DHA.

For some time it has been known that breastfed infants have better developed visual functions in early life compared to those who are fed formula. Provided the mother is receiving sufficient DHA in her diet, and in fact sufficient Omega 3 fatty acids in general, these will come through to the infant through the breastmilk. However to date many infant formulas have not contained the essential fatty acids, and in particular DHA, and as a result formula-fed infants did not receive the same amount of DHA as those who were breastfed.

Studies have shown that breastfed infants had better visual accuity in the first few months of life and better retinal development than those who were formula-fed.

The human body is unable to manufacture the Omega 3 essential fatty acids on its own, and relies on diet for its supply of these important fats.

These results have now been confirmed by the European Parliament. The European Parliament has now allowed infant formulas to include claims about the benefits of DHA on infant visual development, where these products are DHA fortified.

This is a solid recognition of the science behind the conclusions above, namely that a low level of intake of DHA during the early months and years can lead to deficiencies in visual development.

This was not an easy vote, and there was opposition from many sides. One of the obvious objections to making claims about the health benefits of formula is that it may lead parents to believe that infant formula is as good as breastmilk.

There seems little doubt that any mother, where able, should be breastfeeding her infant rather than using formula. Mothers milk is always best.

However there are always mothers who for various reasons are unable to breast feed, and in these cases using infant formulas containing DHA is much better than using a formula which does not.

The development of infant vision is only one reason for ensuring that the baby or infant receives a sufficient supply of the essential fatty acids known as the Omega 3 fats, and in particular DHA. There’s a wide range of other infant developmental reasons why DHA supply is crucial to the baby and infant. These include development of the brain, which we have talked about in another article about Omega 3 fats and children.

The development of your baby’s vision is one of the most important aspects of infant development, and not to be underestimated.¬†The development of vision in the first few years of life is crucial to so many other aspects of life in the later years. From birth to 3 years of age your baby’s vision undergoes enormous changes, and it’s proper development relies on the mother providing the baby with sufficient essential nutrients, and in particular DHA.

So how do you ensure that your baby’s vision develops to its best? How do you make sure your baby is getting sufficient DHA in his or her diet?

The best way to do this is by ensuring that the breastfeeding mother has a sufficient supply of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids in her diet, and passes these on to her baby through her milk. Breastfeeding is still the healthiest way to feed your baby, and far superior to formula, whether DHA fortified or not.

This can be achieved by eating fish, or by taking fish oil supplements, to ensure an adequate supply of the Omega 3 fats for herself. These will then be passed to her baby in adequate amounts. Taking Omega 3 capsules will also ensure that the mother has sufficient essential fatty acids for her own good health as well as the health and development of her baby.

It’s important however, particularly for pregnant women who intend to eat fish to increase their Omega 3 intake, to research the type of fish you eat, as different types of fish can be contaminated with varying levels of Mercury. It may well be worth discussing this with your doctor.

To read more about the importance of DHA in baby vision development click here, and to read more about the vote of the European Parliament allowing claims about DHA and infant vision on formula click here.



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Supplying Omega 3 for kids is very important. But how do you get them taking those capsules?

More and more adults are beginning to understand the importance of taking fish oil supplements containing the important essential fatty acids, known as Omega 3. Kids need Omega3 in their diet as well, however there are sometimes issues getting kids to take those capsules.

Today we want to consider consider fish oil for children, and in particular how to get kids to take fish oil capsules.

Science has clearly demonstrated over the last couple of decades that the essential fatty acids DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) are extremely important to our diet and our health and that most of us are lacking in these fatty acids because we’re eating less fish and the principal source of these fats is fish oil. Children too need more Omega3 fats in their diet.Omega 3 for kids

Evidence is showing that right from conception, and in particular in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, Omega3 fats, and in particular DHA, are extremely important for the development of the fetus, and in particular the brain.

The same applies during childhood. An essential component of the diet for young children is the essential fatty acids called Omega3. Kids develop better and do better at school with an adequate supply of Omega3 essential fatty acids in the diet according to the studies.

But supplying fish oil for children in their diet isn’t necessarily easy. When they are young they are unable to take capsules, and so we suggest opening each fish oil capsule and pouring the oil onto their food.

However at a certain age you should be teaching your kids to take fish oil capsules. Here’s some tips on how you can help your kids learn to take fish oil capsules.

It’s much easier for them to swallow capsules if they do so with a liquid to help. However a thin liquid such as water or milk is not as effective as a thicker liquid, for example a smoothie.

If you give them a big gulp of a liquid such as a smoothie this will help them swallow the capsule. It also helps if you place the capsule on the back of the tongue, lengthways so that the point is facing down the throat.

Make sure that they are sitting up straight, and they should hold their head horizontally because tipping too far forward or back narrows the throat.

There is now little doubt that all of us need Omega3, kids being no exception. Initially opening the capsules and pouring the oil on their food works fine, but at a certain age you will need to start training them to take their own fish oil pills. Try it and if it doesn’t work try it again in year or so. Eventually they’ll learn.

Follow the instructions above and you should be able to help your children learn how to take Omega3 capsules relatively effortlessly. Providing fish oil for kids is important to their general health and development, and you need to do everything to ensure that taking their Omega3 is as easy as possible.

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Children, Omega 3 and the healthy development of our kids. Our kids need fish oil for brain development, and more.

The benefits of increasing our intake of omega 3 essential fatty acids are well-established, for both adults and children. Omega 3 essential fatty acids are very important for a wide range of health reasons.

Omega 3 fats are found in fish oil. Kids, or at least their parents, need to ensure that there is an adequate supply of Omega3 fats in their diet. Lets examine the link between Omega 3 and children’s health.

A new Australian study from the University of Wollongong’s School of Health Sciences, undertaken by associate Professor Barbara Meyer, has found that most children do not eat enough fish and are deficient in the Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) , both found primarily in fish oil. Professor Meyer has now submitted a paper for publication in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition publishing her findings.

These findings include that 3 year old children in Australia consumed, on average, just 47 milligrams of Omega 3 essential fats and 4 to 8 year olds just 55 milligrams. Her description of these intakes of Omega3 fats was that they were “desperately low”. And these figures represent less than 10 percent of the Australian National Heart Foundation recommended intake of 500 milligrams per day. She says that only 6 percent of Australian children are meeting the recommended dietary intake.

Clearly our kids should increase their intake of Omega 3. Kids can do this by increasing their intake of fish, as well as increasing their intake of some Omega 3 fortified foods. For example there are Omega 3 fortified eggs available, though they are sometimes hard to find.
Children and Omega 3

The best way to increase the dietary intake of Omega3 fats is from supplementation with fish oil. Kids can take fish oil supplements, though in some cases may struggle with the capsules, these often being too large for kids to take. The author of this article has children, and overcomes this problem by cutting the end off the capsule and pouring the fish oil into a teaspoon, and giving it to his children with their breakfast.

So let’s examine some more of the information provided by Professor Meyer about the importance of increasing the intake of the essential fatty acids in children. The essential fatty acids are important to a whole range of children’s health issues.

Firstly Professor Meyer suggests that children’s intake of Omega3 fats should begin during pregnancy, and that pregnant women should ensure they ate fish during pregnancy, though she warns about the problem of mercury contamination in fish. This can be overcome conveniently by supplementing the diet of pregnant women with high quality fish oil supplements, many of which (though not all) are adequately decontaminated and do not harbor nasty toxins like mercury, PCBs, pesticides and heavy metals routinely found in fish.

Professor Meyer also points out that the last trimester of pregnancy is extremely important to the growing fetus as this is the time when the fetus is developing its brain, and Omega 3 essential fats are highly important to brain development. And Professor Meyer also notes that the first 2 years of an infants life are equally important to brain development. However it is not just brain development that is benefited by an increased intake of fish oil. Children have other developmental requirements that are also benefited by an adequate level of Omega3 intake.

An inadequate level of intake of Omega 3 in children can place them, over time, at increased risk of asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), retarded brain development, reduced development of the vision and even at the risk of heart disease, and more.

Clearly there are powerful reasons for us to ensure that our kids have sufficient dietary intake of fish oil. Kids, in our modern society, do not eat enough fish, if any, and this is placing their health and proper development at risk.

It is too late to start fatty acid supplementation when children are old enough to start taking Omega 3 capsules. As the author does, it is better to ensure, right from birth, that we are maximizing the chances of children’s brain development and better health in our children. Omega 3 can be conveniently given to them merely by removing the oil from the capsule and sprinkling it on their breakfast. They don’t even know it is there.

Of course it is quite possible to increase children’s intake of fish. However there are some issues with this. The obvious one is mercury contamination of fish, as previously mentioned, and for this reason the FDA recommends that we limit our intake of fish. Pregnant women should be especially careful, and some cans of salmon carry warnings about intake by pregnant women.

Secondly, in the author’s experience, it can be particularly difficult to convince young children to eat fish. Of course fish can be disguised in food however it is difficult to ensure an adequate intake of fish every week in this way.

The best way to ensure an adequate level of intake of omega 3 in children is supplementation. That is why the author supplements the diet of his own children with fish oil.

It is also important to understand that there are big differences between the various Omega 3 capsules available on the market. There are differences in the amount of DHA, (the most important of the omega 3 fatty acids) found in most capsules. Some capsules have way more DHA than others, and for this reason it is very difficult to compare the price of the different Omega 3 capsules available, because one capsule cannot adequately be compared with another.

There are also issues to consider about the effectiveness of the fish oil in the capsules, and in particular its freshness, as many Omega 3 supplements use stale fish oil. Fish oil can oxidise very quickly, and this causes the often so called “fishy burps” that some people experience, and this can put children off taking the capsules if they are taking capsules.

As you can see there are powerful reasons to increase the intake of the essential fatty acids in children. Omega 3 essential fatty acids are important to our health from conception right through to our old age. And although this study focused on Australian children there is no doubt that American children are also equally deficient in the essential fatty acids known as omega 3. Kids need their good fats just like the rest of us.

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