Should my child be taking fish oil?

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As a dyslexia assessor, this is something I get asked all the time. Here are some different perspectives to enable you to make an informed decision.

Good for your eyes?

Leading dyslexia researcher John Stein argues forcefully for using omega 3 (and limiting omega 6) in his magnocellular theory. The basic premise is that we take in too much omega 6 (in oily foods) and this crowds out omega 3 (typically found in oily fish). He argues that this can affect certain key brain cells responsible for vision. Here is an old (and slightly one-sided) article from the guardian that sets out the case.

The story so far…

Is there really sufficient evidence for taking omega 3 supplements? This Canadian article gives a run down some of the studies. Most functional neuroscientists and nutritionists are big fans of its brain-enhancing and inflammation-reducing effects, but suggest that it takes high doses and 3 months to see most benefits.  Searching for ‘pubmed and omega 3’ will show you the latest published research.

Algae?! Krill?

Obviously trying to get oily fish into your child’s diet is ideal, but as a mum I find that a challenge. My son loves salmon but the levels of mercury, heavy metals and microplastics are still a bit of a worry for me. After doing lots of research, my eldest son and I have recently moved to taking high strength algae oil omega 3 capsules. Fish get the omega 3 from the algae, this cuts out the middle man (or fish). Here are some different types of omega 3 capsules

How do you know if it’s worth the money? 

For children and adults with a deficiency in omega 3, supplements can improve sleep or concentration, as well as reducing low mood, violence or symptoms associated with ADHD.

How do you spot signs of a long-chain omega 3 fatty acid deficiency?

Dry skin, weak nails, dull hair and flaky scalp may be good indicators. Other weirder ones may be excessive ear wax, hives, asthma, eczema, thirst, leg cramps, joint pain, period pain, being quick to anger, excess urination, tiredness and trouble sleeping.

Need a plan for school to pinpoint exactly how to help?