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What are the Benefits of Fish Oil for Kids?

Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help to combat attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia, hyperactivity and autism in kids. Even if children are not diagnosed with one of these conditions, fish oil for kids generally improves overall concentration and brain function. It also promotes calmness, alertness and awareness, possibly leading to improved academics and behavior. The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for proper brain and eye function, research suggests.

Researchers report that when taken daily, fish oil for kids can often result in higher standardized test scores. Better writing, math, and reading performance has also been noticed among some children taking fish oil. Few negative side effects of fish oil, when taken as directed by packaging, are noted. Parents generally report that the best benefits come from supplements that do not contain artificial sweeteners and colorings, which can upset the stomachs of some children.

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Fish oil for kids comes in gel supplements or liquid form and is usually made from the oil of salmon, mackerel or sardines. Chewy tablets are also available in some markets. Cod liver oil is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, but is not seen by many doctors as a high-quality source when compared with salmon or mackerel oils because it lacks significant DHA and EPA. To appease the taste buds of children, most fish oil for kids comes in flavors such as orange, strawberry and lemon.

The lack of omega-3 fatty acids often leads to depression, impulsiveness, and a negative outlook on life, say some psychiatrists who back natural cures. Parents supplementing their children’s diets with fish oil generally notice changes in mood and productivity within a week. The shift is usually quite dramatic, because children are so deficient in omega-3 fatty acids that the sudden introduction almost shocks the system into balance, finally providing long-absent nutrition and a sense of well-being.

The dietary addition of omega-3 fatty acids through fish oil for kids also helps to balance the excess of omega-6 fatty acids, which children get from corn products and often have in abundance. Many families subsist on packaged foods and shun fresh fish, depriving children of the primary source of natural omega-3 fatty acids. Children who wish to gain fish oil directly from fresh foods can consider fresh mackerel, salmon and sardines. Taking supplements or foods with fish oil is necessary, because the human body itself does not produce any omega-3 fatty acids despite needing them.

Increasingly, behavioral psychologists are prescribing fish oil for kids in addition to standard medications to treat children and teens with bipolar disorders, manic depression and other brain-related illnesses. Fish oil, however, can be bought without prescriptions at most pharmacies or health food stores. Fish oil also improves heart function in both children and adults.

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