Summer’s here and for our kids that means swimming, camping, free time, sleepovers, and maybe more home-alone time. Fun! But summer is also the season when nutrition can go out the window with a less structured schedule. So how can you make sure your kids are getting the right stuff for the energy, playfulness, and restful sleep they need?
It’s true that we are what we eat. And because childhood is a time of rapid physical, mental, and emotional growth, kids’ bodies use the nutrients we feed them to fuel this growth. Their bodies depend on it. One good idea is to make sure their diets include adequate omega-3 fatty acids.
EPA and DHA omega-3 are healthy fats that we need to consume because our body needs them and we can’t make them. Children should consume at least 250 mg of EPA and DHA every day, yet most kids get less than 50 mg per day. EPA and DHA omega-3 appear to be even more important for children with behavior, focus, sleep, and learning challenges, as research shows they have even less EPA and DHA than other kids[1-3]. About one in ten children, more boys than girls, are affected.
What we know from the research:
- Kids need more EPA and DHA in their diets[1,4,5].
- Their mental and physical health improves when they get more[4-7].
- Kids with healthy levels of EPA and DHA have better moods, better social skills, and better learning skills[4-8].
- They also sleep better and are able to focus better[9,10].
Some simple and tasty omega-3 ideas:
- Overnight oats for breakfast or afternoon snack (see our recipe here)
- A can of tuna tossed into pasta salad
- Fish oil stirred into yogurt, eat chilled or frozen
- Hard-boiled eggs fortified with omega-3s in a picnic lunch
- A small handful of chopped walnuts
Gretchen Vannice, MS, RDN
Head of Global Nutrition Education
Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil
References: Bird JK, McBurney MI. FASEB 2016;30:1163.3  Gow RV, et al. PLEFA 2013;88:411-418  Stevens LJ, et al. Am J of Clin Nutr 1995;62:761-768.  Weiser MJ, et al. Nutrients 2016;8:99  Richardson AJ, Puri BK. PLEFA 2000;63:79-87.  Milte CM, et al. J Atten Disord 2015;19:954-964.  Stevens L, et al. Lipids 2003;38(10):1007-1021.  Richardson AJ, Montgomery P.Peds 2005;115:1360-6.  Stonehouse W. Nutrients 2014;6:2730-2758  Montomery P, et al. J Sleep Res 2014;23:364-388