Are Your Kids Getting Enough Omega-3s? Probably Not.
October 25, 2018 at 19:11 by Barlean's
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Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to human health. Biologists have noted that in pre-historical times, while the human brain underwent rapid expansion, most people lived near lakes or oceans. Why? That’s where the fish were — and fish are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids. (They’re also found in seaweed, walnuts and flaxseeds.)
Kids and Omega-3s
Everybody needs Omega-3s, but kids in particular need to have an adequate supply. That’s because children’s minds and bodies are developing quickly, and Omega-3s help fuel that growth.* Unfortunately, most American kids don’t get enough.
How Much is Enough?
While Omega-3s are known to be essential, a daily value has not yet been established. However, the Institute of Medicine has established an adequate intake of 500mg for babies just born to 12 months, 700mg for toddlers 1-3, 900mg for kids 4-8, 1,000-1,200mg for kids 9-13 and 1,100-1,600mg for kids 14-18. Health Canada has issued similar guidelines. Sadly, most Americans fall far short of these goalposts, consuming less than 100 grams daily.
Most American Adults are Deficient
To measure Omega-3s in real life, scientists developed a tool called the “Omega-3 Index.” This simple test measures the amount of Omega-3s in a person’s blood. High blood levels (8% of more of total fatty acids) are associated with a heathy heart, while the opposite is true of low blood levels (4% or less of total fatty acids).*
Unfortunately, a study of global consumption of Omega-3s found North Americans tend to have “very low” blood levels of Omega-3. In fact, according to one expert using data from a large-scale study of heart health, 70 percent of Americans are deficient in these essential fats!
What About Kids?
American kids aren’t faring any better than the adults. A study of 219 children aged 7-12 found that “very few American children met even the lowest recommendations for EPA and DHA intake.” Indeed, the average American child only consumes 50 milligrams of EPA/DHA per day.