Fish oil improves memory power in children.
Hoax or Fact:
Mixture of hoax and facts.
These are widely popular claims that say consuming Fish Oil regularly will improve memory power in Children. The beliefs became so popular that there are many Fish Oil supplements sold in the market today. However, the available research on benefits of Fish oil in children is not conclusive.
What’s in Fish Oil?
Fish oil is considered special because it is loaded with Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These are essential fatty acids, found in fish and other seafood. They must come from food, as our bodies cannot make them.
Omega-3 fatty acids play important roles in normal growth and development, inflammation, eye and brain functions related to memory, learning and reasoning. If we do not eat enough omega-3 fatty acids, these functions may be impaired. Deficiencies in omega-3s have been linked to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, some cancers, mood disorders, arthritis, and more. But that does not mean that taking high doses promotes better health and prevents these diseases.
Research on Fish Oil in Children
The limited research conducted to study the benefits of Fish oil consumption in children have shown mixed results -- both in case of normal children and those with memory related issues like ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). While some studies have shown benefits, some did not. More research is needed to confirm the benefits of fish oil consumption in children.
The famous Durham trial conducted a study on more than 100 children from 12 Durham schools. Half the children were given capsules of Omega 3 fatty acids, and others were given placebos. About 40% of the children who were given Omega 3 fatty acids showed some clear improvement in their memory. According to Dr. Alex Richardson, who conducted the Durham trial, Omega 3s can improve brain function at the very simplest level, by improving blood flow.
Other Sources of Omega-3s
It is to be noted that the two key omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and these are found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Some plants are rich in another type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, which the body can convert to DHA and EPA. Good sources of these are canola oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
Your child should not take fish oils if:
- They are hypersensitive to fish oils.
- They have a bleeding disorder.
- They are taking anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medicine.
Note that women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant and children under the age of 12 should limit their fish intake because they are most susceptible to the potential effects of toxins in fish.
What to Conclude
With the available research, it is not clear how much benefit Fish oil consumption can have in children. So eating fish and other seafood moderately is a healthy strategy; as fish oil may have some additional benefits. The necessary amount of omega-3 fatty acids increases with age. Not just for the Omega-3s, the other fish fats, vitamins, minerals and supporting molecules can contribute to a healthy balanced diet of your children. Also note that every child is different, so you may or may not see a difference in your child's behavior or learning.
If your child has memory issues like ADHD and is taking medication, you can consult your doctor and consider adding fish oil to his/her diet.