Want to Make Your Kids Smarter? Give Them Fish Oil!
A meta-analysis is a method of research that combines the results from different studies with the aim of identifying patterns in the common results.
These authors uncovered four separate meta-analyses with similar recommendations. Among these recommendations was supplementing infants with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, or omega-3s.
The omega-3 fatty acids are also known as essential fatty acids (EFAs). This means that they are essential for metabolic processes but, because they are not able to be synthesized in the body, they must be ingested as part of the diet or come from supplements.
The richest dietary sources of EFAs come from oily fish that live in cold waters. These include salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and anchovies. Oils from these fish have around seven times as much omega-3 fatty acids as they do omega-6 fatty acids.
Modern diets include a lot of omega-6 and little omega-3. This imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 intake can increase your risk of heart disease.
The results of this meta-analysis are supported by recommendations from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), one of the specific omega-3 EFAs found in seafood, is essential for proper brain development of the fetus and in early childhood. The UNFAO recommends that pregnant women, nursing mothers and children through the age of two should consume a minimum of 200 mg of DHA per day.
According to a Harvard Medical School Special Health Report, we should all try to obtain our omega-3s from our diet2.
For those who do not like fish and seafood or those who have very high levels of triglycerides (a type of fat that increases the risk of heart disease), there is no risk in taking a fish oil supplement.
Every parent wants to give their children the best start in life. Improving your child’s IQ by giving fish oil is one way of doing this. To torture a phrase, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; give your child fish oil, make her smart for life.”
1 Protzko J, Aronson J and Blair C. How to Make a Young Child Smarter – Evidence from the Database of Raising Intelligence. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2013.
2 Mozaffarian D. The Truth About Vitamins and Minerals – Choosing the Nutrients You Need To Stay Healthy. Harvard Medical School Special Health Report 2012.
Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/special_health_reports/vitamins-and-minerals-choosing-the-nutrients-you-need-to-stay-healthy.