Nutrients are important for everyone, but it is especially important for kids because it directly links to their growth and development. Your child’s nutrition starts with you and therefore it becomes necessary for you to instill proper nutrition in them.
We’re quite used to hear how fats are bad for us but there exists something referred as good fat. DHA is one of those essential fats you do not want to cut back on, especially during the first two years of life when the brain grows and develops more rapidly than any other time.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid (PUFA) is found in the brain and eye. It is a structural fat that accounts around 97% of omega fat 3 in brain and 93% of the omega fat 3 in eyes in a specific part called retina. It is also a vital component of the heart. Researches have confirmed that everyone be it infants or adults, can benefit from a regular intake of dietary DHA. DHA is found in oily fish, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised eggs, green algae oil, seaweed and also in form of supplements. Harvard School of Public Health states that human body can also make DHA in small amounts after consuming foods rich in alpha linolenic acid, or ALA. ALA can be found in walnuts, soybeans, canola oil and flax seeds. According to MedlinePlus, 3.5 ounces of fatty fish, such as tuna, anchovies, salmon and sardines, provide about 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA. However, children should consume no more than 12 ounces of low-mercury fish per week due to toxins such as mercury found in fish, suggests the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The major growth of an infant occurs during pregnancy and in first two years of his life and it is during these times they need Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) the most. Since DHA is crucial for neurological and visual development; it is given to improve the health in kids. During the growth period, the cognitive motor, communication and interpersonal skills in kids are continually developing too and as the human brain is made up of 60% fatty tissue, it becomes necessary for them to get constant supply of DHA to support this time period of intensive growth. The first study on children of age 7 to 9 who had low intakes of DHA and other omega 3 acids resulted in poor reading habits and memory with behavioral problems. According to doctors, DHA is needed for brain development in same way as calcium is required for bone growth. Recently, two new studies have also confirmed that boosting the DHA intake in infants and school aged kids is a simple way of generating measurable improvements in their brain function.
The DHA supplements are thought to boost brain functioning and vision in kids and also cure certain health problems such as
1) Reliving symptoms of asthma
2) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
3) Influences on the development of the immune system
4) Reducing the body’s response to inflammation and
5) Curing allergies
Foods that contain good amount of DHA are limited to organ meals and fatty fish which are not usually consumed by kids. Unstable and picky eating habits make it difficult for parents to provide their kids the optimum level of DHA. Though there is no universal guideline for daily DHA intake in kids, it is recommended to take DHA and EPA together. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids suggests children aged 1 and a half years to 15 years, get 15 milligrams of DHA.
The preferred way to consume this nutrient is breast milk, so if one can continuously breast feed through out first year, the infant can get a great head start for success in life. However, it is recommended to feed them with supplemented formulas that contain DHA. As soon as the kid can safely swallow a capsule (kid-sized / half the size of regular capsules) or food, he can be provided the same.
Countless studies have proved that what one learns as a child, is perpetuated throughout their life and in order to ensure their well-being DHA content in everyday meal needs to be incorporated wisely.