Signs that indicate a lack of omega 3 in children and adolescents

The properties of omega 3 have been recognized by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which points out that a minimum daily intake of 250 milligrams of DHA helps maintain the normal functioning of the brain, eyesight and heart.

Paloma Frial, president of VIDALIMpoints out that the omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that our body it does not produce itself efficiently or in the amounts we need daily, so it is necessary to ingest it through food in general and, specifically, from marine sources such as fish, fish oil, or microalgae oil.

“Polyunsaturated fatty acids from the omega 3 family, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are essential components in many aspects of health, including fetal development in pregnant women, brain and vision function, cardiovascular health and immunity. In addition, these fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the risk of chronic diseases associated with silent inflammation such as diabetes, obesity or cognitive impairment, among others. Therefore, they are essential nutrients for all stages of life.

How important is it to children?

Many scientific studies suggest that omega 3 supplements offer various health benefits for children, such as improving the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition, current evidence suggests that its consumption, specifically DHA, can improve cognitive performance related to learning, memory and the speed of performing cognitive tasks in school-age children and strengthens the immune system. Therefore, it is essential in cognitive development in childhood. DHA supplementation safely and effectively helps children improve their performance and cognitive development, as long as quality omega-3 supplements are used.

How do you know if the little ones have the correct levels?

There are some observable signs such as: dry skin, weak hair, brittle nails, sleep problems, lack of concentration, tiredness, etc. Although it is advisable to carry out a clinical analysis that accurately indicates the child’s state of health.

What foods favor the increase of this fatty acid?

They are found in fish with a high fat content, such as tuna, horse mackerel or salmon, among others. But these can contain a multitude of contaminants, especially heavy metals such as mercury. For these reasons, new strategies have been developed to obtain new sources of omega 3 that are more sustainable with marine resources, such as the use of marine microalgae oils.

At what time should it be given in addition to food, as a supplement?

Omega 3 supplements can be consumed at any time of the day, the only recommendation that exists is to do so during the intake of a meal. There are also single-dose sachets on the market with extra virgin olive oil that are designed to be added to food and, in this way, prevent children from rejecting the pills.

From what age can they take it as a food supplement?

A daily consumption of 250mg of DHA is recommended for children from 3 years of age.

And adolescents, do they usually have deficiencies? What are the most notable symptoms that can make us suspect this deficiency?

According to the report on Food Consumption in Spain (MAPA, 2020), a decrease in the consumption of fishery products has been observed in recent years. In addition, the highest consumption of these products occurs in people over 35 years of age. Therefore, it is quite possible that the frequency of fish consumption in adolescents is below the EFSA recommendation of 3-4 servings of fish per week. Therefore, it may be necessary to supplement the diet of our adolescents with omega 3 food supplements.

Recent studies show that its lack in adolescence causes anxiety and decreases cognitive functions in adulthood. It affects brain regions involved in reasoning and emotion regulation, although its effects can be corrected with proper treatment.

Clinical signs of essential fatty acid deficiency include a dry and scaly rash, growth retardation in infants and children, increased susceptibility to infection, and poor wound healing, etc. Other symptoms include visual problems and neurosensory disorders (neuropathy).


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