Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for a child’s nutritional needs. It cannot be overstated how important it is especially for a child’s brain health! Omega-3 fatty acids are important for overall health and can help a child focus, reduce hyperactivity, and lead to better memory, uptake and retention overall. It is critical that we provide high-omega-3 foods or supplements to growing children as much as possible.
What exactly are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid, which means that the body cannot produce them and they must be obtained from food or other sources.
The three main omega-3 fats are ALA, DHA, and EPA (the titles are confusing, so don’t memorise them).
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are produced in modest amounts by ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which can be obtained from foods such as certain oils, nuts, and seeds.
The DHA and EPA produced by this ALA are insufficient. As a result, you must consume it!
Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, and tuna provide DHA and EPA to the body.
DHA and EPA are critical for a child’s cognitive and behavioural development.
So, where may Omega-3 fats be found?
Although this is not an exhaustive list of omega-3-rich foods, there are a few items you can try to incorporate into a child’s diet.
• Fish and seafood, particularly fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines that we’ve already discussed;
• Walnuts, flax, hemp, and chia seeds are examples of nuts and seeds.
• Oils from plants.
Even if parents do their best to provide nuts, seeds, and fish to their children on a regular basis, they may not accept them willingly or eat as much as they require. This is where supplements can help to fill in the gaps in your omega-3 intake.
Introducing omega-3 supplements to children
We’ve all experienced how tough it is to convince a youngster to take supplements, right? Omega-3 supplements, especially those in liquid form, make this even more difficult because they have an oily texture and can have an unpleasant fishy flavour. This may not be a problem if your child is older and can take a pill or gummy, but we’ll focus on liquids today.
So, here are a few ways to mask the fishy taste of omega-3 oil:
1. Toss it with your child’s favourite freshly squeezed juice: Citrus fruits, such as orange juice are best for masking the flavour and texture.
2. Toss with yoghurt in a smoothie or frozen yogurt along with fruits: The soft texture and strong flavour of flavoured yoghurt will help to mask the oil’s taste and consistency.
3. Add to nut butter and spread on toast, crackers, or fruit.
4. POPSICLES WITH FRUIT!: There’s nothing like a delicious fruity popsicle to cool off after a long day of school or activities. Before freezing, hide some omega-3 in the popsicles.
No matter how hard you try, not every child will accept an omega-3 supplement, but it is a crucial nutrient to include in their diet. Don’t give up.
Kanupriya Khanna, a Senior Consultant Nutritionist & Dietitian with over 18 years of experience in antenatal nutrition, can provide expert advice. She is regarded as one of the best dietitians in Delhi because of her unwavering commitment to making a difference in people’s lives by instilling good eating habits and lifestyles.