Isn’t it amazing that most modern diseases can be traced to deficiencies in Vitamin D and Omega 3’s? And the most amazing part is that it can be easily corrected with a well balanced diet and some sun. So simple. I’ll be getting into the Vitamin D issues in another article, but for now let’s focus on DHA – the most important Omega 3 fatty acid and the importance for toddlers.
Omega-3, polyunsaturated fats found in significant amounts only in oily fish and offal, make up a quarter of the grey matter of the brain and are vital to brain and eye development.
– Amelia Hill, “Fish oil diet feeds brains of toddlers – Study shows Omega-3 improves pre-school learning skills”, The Observer
For more information about Omega-3’s read my article
A 2005 Study proved that pregnant and lactating women that take fish oil/DHA supplements have children that have better hand-eye coordination as toddlers and better cognitive skills. This study prompted formula manufacturers to start including DHA, although it took several years for them to get to market. So while your child is still breastfeeding (and you’re taking a DHA supplement) or taking formula with DHA then your child is getting all the benefits.
But what about toddlers? Another 2005 study done in Australia gave 1 gram of fish oil to a small group of toddlers every day for a year. Many of the children showed significant improvement in motor and language skills as early as 6 weeks. Several 2 year olds increased their vocabulary from about 25 single words (6 months behind their chronological age milestones) to being able to use complete whole sentences in just a matter of months (at or above milestones).
However, the biggest improvement was seen in the concentration abilities and behavior of the children. Most of the children enrolled in the study had behavioral issues and the parents were at their wits end. By the end of 3 months, nearly 60% of the children had dramatic improvements in their concentration and behavior performance. This behavioral improvement had another positive effect… increased bonding between parent and child which then enhanced their learning skills. Truly a win-win for every one.
So how do you make sure your toddler is getting enough Omega-3’s? The quick answer is that they should be eating fish twice a week. But have you ever tried to give a fussy 2 year old fish? Not so easy. So the next best thing is a fish oil supplement. As always, ask your doctor or pediatrician before giving any products with medicinal effects to your child.
Things to keep in mind when you start giving a toddler fish oil
- Do not give fish liver oil. One of the main functions of the liver is to detoxify the body. If you give a liver oil supplement, you’ll most likely be giving toxins along with the beneficial DHA.
- Although the liver oil has the most amount of toxins, you should also look for fish oil made from algae or cold-water fish like sardines and anchovies. The larger the fish is, the more toxins the fish will have in particular mercury.
- The 1 gram of fish oil in the Australian study had 151 mg of DHA
- The New Zealand guidelines for children ages 1-3 recommends a daily intake of 40 mg of Omega-3’s