Just last year, Science Daily reported on a study conducted by the University of Oxford, which found that “children’s blood levels of omega-3 (DHA) ‘significantly predicted’ how well they were able to concentrate and learn.”
Well, I don’t have to tell you about dyspraxic children and their lack of concentration skills, so it stands to reason that upping their dose of omega-3 is going to go some way to help them concentrate better.
The same report also concluded that supplementing a child’s diet with omega-3 (DHA) improved both reading progress and behaviour. The same researchers have previously found benefits of of supplementing the diet with omega-3 (EPA+DHA) for children with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, and ADHD.
There are so many omega-3 products on the market that it can be hard to choose the best one, and the dose of omega-3 found in each one can vary wildly, so which is the best omega-3 product for kids with dyspraxia?
There are 3 different kids of omega-3 (EPA, DHA, & ALA–just to make sure we’re all confused!), but we are only interested in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids of EPA and DHA. These are the ones that are found in most abundance in the brain, and are the ones you’ll see listed on omega-3 supplements.
Omega-3 is found naturally in foods such as oily fish (sardines, salmon, trout), eggs, and nuts & seeds (walnuts, flax seeds). But it’s hard to get the recommended dosage of omega-3 that a child with dyspraxia or ADHD would need in order to be of a significant benefit, just from food alone. Plus, it’s not easy to get a child to eat oily fish and seeds!
In order to calculate the dose you are getting from an omega-3 supplement, you need to add both the EPA and DHA numbers together. These will be clearly printed on the side of the box or bottle, so you can check before you buy. You should make sure that the supplement contains both EPA and DHA omega-3.
For children with attention deficit and concentration issues:
- 1,000-1,500 milligrams is recommended for younger children (4-8 years old).
- 2,000-2,500 milligrams. is recommended for older children (over 8 years old).
Bear in Mind:
- A child should not consume more than 3,000 milligrams of omega-3 in a day.
- It’s worth checking with you GP before starting a course of supplements in case it may interfere with other medication your child is taking.
- Your child should not take omega-3 supplements if they have a weakened immune system or have an allergy to shellfish or fish.
- Always check with your GP if you are in doubt.
Don’t bother with most capsules
I would personally take most chewable capsules out of the equation as their levels of omega-3 are just too low to make any difference to a child with concentration issues.
You would need to give a young child between 9-13 capsules a day to reach the 1,000-1,500 mg daily dose. Not only does that sound ridiculous, it would cost you around £7-£9 a week. This is based on a dose of 1,250 mg, but for an older child it would obviously cost you even more.
Capsules Conclusion: They taste nice but it’s going to cost you a fortune and your child will have an aching jaw–your child’s dentist will likely not be happy either. You can often buy these on a 3-for-2 deal at Boots at Tesco, which would bring the cost down.
In contrast to the capsules, which taste nice, many syrups can taste a bit fishy. Not surprising really as they contain fish oil, but you can’t blame a child for not being keen on taking a spoon of fishy liquid.
Two products that we’ve personally tried and liked are Haliborange Kids Omega-3 Orange syrup, and Boots own-brand Tutti Fruity Omega-3 syrup. Both have a nice taste, don’t taste fishy, and my daughter doesn’t mind taking these every day at all.
The Boots one is the better deal by far, but we often end up buying the Haliborange one from the supermarket, where they have deals on vitamins pretty much constantly. It’s also often easier to stick in your trolley as you’re shopping rather than making a special visit to Boots.
However, taking 6 spoons of syrup in a day is not ideal–and also not great for a child’s teeth, I would guess.
Syrup Conclusion: So it’s no surprise that we’re recommending the Boots Omega-3 tutti fruity syrup as our best omega-3 product. It’s the best value, it tastes nice, and taking 3 spoons a day to reach a child’s omega-3 target is no effort at all.
When looking at the nutrition information and you’re adding together your DHA and EPA numbers, remember to take a look at what dosage these numbers represent. Often the labels are misleading and will show you the amounts for 2 capsules or 2 spoonfuls (10ml).
My daughter is now 9, but I still find that a dose of 3 teaspoons of the Boots syrup (1350 mg omega-3 in total) is sufficient enough to make a difference, and when she was younger I would say 2 teaspoons was plenty. So don’t feel like you have to aim for the figures that are recommended here.
A big point to bear in mind, though, is that it takes at least one month to notice a difference, so give it a chance to work. We are, in essence, feeding up the brain, so it makes sense that the changes won’t be noticed quickly.
Do you have a recommendation of an omega-3 product that you’d like to let us know about? There are many out there, but most we’ve found taste really fishy, so it would be great to hear if you’ve come across a good one that we haven’t featured here.
All prices were correct at time of writing (Sept 2014) and are based on the full prices at Boots. Obviously, if you take advantage of 3-for-2 offers the price per spoon or per capsule is reduced.
ADDitude magazine – http://www.additudemag.com/adhdblogs/11/10095.html
Image of child struggling to concentrate –https://flic.kr/p/dgNeSG
Science Daily – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130913092414.htm
Boots – http://www.boots.com