We are always being told by nutritionists that we need to eat 2 to 3 portions of oily fish a week to get our recommended intake of Omega3. Why is that? Omega3 is termed as an ‘essential fatty acid’. Like essential amino acids (proteins) we do not make them so therefore need to source these from our diets.
So why is Omega3 just so important?
There is more and more scientific research available highlighting the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids from preconception, pregnancy and all the way through our lifetime. EPA and DHA have many biological effects, most notably anti-inflammatory activity and communication within the cell and between cells. In children they are really important for brain development, cognitive and behavioural function (1). This is also true as we get older as Omega3’s can play a protective role by lowering inflammation in our bodies and keeping our brain’s healthy against the threats of Alzheimers or dementia (2).
Signs that you or your child may be lacking in Omega3?
Mood Swings, anxiety
Rough, dry or 'bumpy' skin.
Dry, dull hair
Always thirsty, excessive urination
Sleep problems (hard to settle at night and early waking!)
Which foods contain Omega 3?
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) come from fish. Sources include salmon, mackerel, herrings, kippers, anchovies and fresh tuna. If you can get your children eating two portions a week of the above fish, huge congratulations to you as that is not an easy task speaking from experience! If not, then you may want to supplement your child with a fish oil. Metagenics do a great chewable child friendly ‘non fishy’ options that we recommend in .
Can I get Omega 3 from anywhere other than fish?
Yes you can. Unlike EPA and DHA which only come from marine sources, flaxseeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds and seaweed all contain the Omega3, Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). However, our body uses this fatty acid primarily for energy and conversion to EPA and DHA, which we need for brain health, is poor (3). If you or your child is vegetarian, make sure you are getting enough magnesium, Vitamin C, zinc, and B vitamins to help with the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA (4). If you are looking for a vegetarian or vegan supplement, Nordic Naturals do a great Algae Omega.
If you are concerned or worried that you or your child may need some nutritional support, please contact us here The Nourished Tribe
Hibbeln JR, Gow RV. (2014). Omega-3 Fatty Acid and Nutrient Deficits in Adverse Neurodevelopment and Childhood Behaviors. Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America; 23(3):555-590.
Shinto L, Quinn J, Montine T, et al. (2014). A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Pilot Trial of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Alpha Lipoic Acid in Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD38(1):10.3233/JAD-130722.
Blondeau N, Lipsky RH, Bourourou M, Duncan MW, Gorelick PB, Marini AM. (2015). Alpha-Linolenic Acid: An Omega-3 Fatty Acid with Neuroprotective Properties—Ready for Use in the Stroke Clinic? BioMed Research International. 519830.
Weylandt KH, Serini S, Chen YQ, et al. (2015) Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: The Way Forward in Times of Mixed Evidence. BioMed Research International. 143109.