Think outside the fish for Omega 3s for Children

Wondering what new sources of Omega 3 to give to your children? I have done several posts on the importance of Omega 3 and have created a lot of recipes using Omega 3 rich food sources.  I include a lot of Omega 3 in my children’s diet as it is crucial for their brain and heart development. The critical period for brain development for children is till they are 5 years old.

Why is Omega 3 important for children?

Omega 3 is the “good” fat and over 60 percent of a child’s brain and retina is comprised of essential fat needed for proper nerve transmission and learning patterns. Kids NEED Omega 3 to thrive. Most North American children are chronically deficient in this good fast.  Deficiency of Omega 3 fats has been linked to allergies, eczema, constipations, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and other learning disabilities.

The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 fats is approximately 1:1, but the ratio ranges between 20:1 and 30:1, primarily due to the excess consumption of omega 6 from the safflower and sunflower (processed foods).  Over consumption of omega 6 interferes with the proper absorption of omega 3 fats.

How much omega 3 is recommended for children?

0 to 12 months 500 mg
1 year 600 mg
2 to 3 years 700 mg
4 to 6 years 1,000 mg
7 to 9 years 1,200 mg for boys/ 1,000 mg for girls
10 to 12 years 1,400 mg for boys/ 1,200 mg for girls
13 to 15 years 1,500 mg for boys/ 1,200 mg for girls

What are the other sources of Omega 3 in addition to the fish?

1)      Buy Grass-fed products. Most of the US domestic cattle are fed grains high in omega 6 acids but Grass fed cattle or free range chickens convert store DHA and EPA(Omega 3 sources) in their meat. So buy organic. Here’s an interesting trivial nugget – Consumers in Australia get 43% of their Omega 3s from meat since most of the livestock is pasture fed. The same applies to dairy products. Dairy products from pasture fed animals are also believed to be higher in omega 3s. Check out local farmers that have pasture fed cattle and dairy products.

2)      Eat Algea and Seaweed. We eat fish to get Omega 3s while fish get it from eating seaweed and algae. So why not cut the middle man and go directly to the source? Or better yet, given all the concerns about fish contamination, reduce the fish consumption and include algae and seaweed in the diet. Getting kids to eat seaweed is tricky. I have seen that kids either really like it or simply hate it.  In our home, my 3 year old is on the fence. We try to soak the seaweed and drizzle some soya sauce, honey and sesame seed dressing on top. I have noticed that Simone tends to eat them when I serve them this way.

3)      Drizzle Flaxseed and Hemp Oil. 1 tablespoon of Flaxseed or Hemp Oil can give more than the daily recommended dose of Omega 3 for children up to 15 years of age. Flaxseed Oil has 1,730mg of omega 3s in 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil.  Other oils such as olive oil, soybean oil also provide Omega 3s but they have a healthy dose of unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids. Keep in mind you cannot cook with Flaxseed or Hemp Oil as the heat destroys their omega 3s. You can add them into smoothies or as a topping for oatmeal. I actually add the tablespoon of the oil in either the morning milk or the bedtime milk for my kids.  It’s a great alternative to chocolate or strawberry flavors.

4)      Eat Nuts.  Nuts are great snack food. We love nuts in our home. They are also a great source of Omega 3. Although you cannot give nuts to children under the age of 1, but once they are older you can give them almonds and walnuts or even flaxseed seeds.

5)      Slice Avocado.  Just the thought of avocados makes my mouth drool. They are so versatile, eat them as is, or sprinkle with salt and oil, or use them as dessert.


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