Benefits of Fish Oil
The most important thing about fish oil is its importance in eye and brain development. If your kids are not getting fish or seafood in their routine a couple of times a week then this could be hindering their growth.
Do your kids get enough different sources of essential fatty acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids can come from different sources and there are three types of them. Alpha-linoleic (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the three types of essential fatty acids. ALA comes from sources such as flax and different sources of mixed nuts. DHA and EPA are found in the highest amounts in cold-water fish.
How much seafood do they need?
The amount of Omega 3 acids are different as a child ages. Here is what we recommend as a general rule:
1 to 2 years old: 1 ounce
3 to 6 years old: 1.5 ounces
6 and up: 2 ounces
Should be eating seafood at least 2 to 3 days a week
Dangers of seafood/fish
The increase of mercury in many fish has become a concern especially with very young kids. Swordfish seems to have the biggest issue with mercury retention and salmon seems to be the best at not storing mercury. Salmon is a great source of high levels of Omega 3’s and low levels of mercury.
Should you supplement?
This is always a tough thing, especially with young kids, but if your child is not eating enough fish or seafood then supplementation might be the best option. You should consult your family healthcare provider to make sure they have no issues with supplementation and make sure the child is not allergic to fish. If they are allergic they might have to supplement with Algae oil instead.
Supplements are generally mercury free. Fish oil now comes in many different sources: liquid, soft chews, and soft gel form. The soft chews are probably the best way to go with any kids under 13. For older kids, it might be best to supplement with a gel capsule so they are getting the full effects of the oil. At 13 plus, they should be taking in roughly 3 grams of fish oil per day and it should be taken with a meal.
The takeaway from this is that fish oil is very important to youth brain and eye development. Fish and seafood are a great source to get EPA and DHA forms but can have issues with mercury. Supplementation is probably needed for most youth, especially athletes.