Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients and are present in every cell of the human body. Two Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are found in oily fish, but another form of Omega-3, ALA is found in plant foods like nuts and seeds and is converted into EPA and DHA in the body.
The Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, help support normal brain function, vision and heart function*. That is why the Government recommends eating at least two portions of fish per week, including one of oily fish, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Although oily fish contain some of the highest levels of Omega-3, there are other sources to include which will be good for children’s health. Here are some you can try:
1. Mackerel. Mackerel are small oily fish that contains around 2760mg of Omega-3 per serving (1). It is rich in vitamin B12 and selenium as well.
2. Salmon. Salmon is a fish that can be cooked fresh as well as being available in cans. It is a high-quality protein food, that contains around 4000mg of Omega-3 per serving, and is high in B-vitamins, selenium and potassium (2).
3. Herring. Herring is an oily fish that is often smoked and sold as “kippers”. Scandinavian countries like to pickle them and serve them as “rollmops”. A kippered herring typically contains 2385mg of Omega-3 per 100g and is a rich source of vitamin D (3).
4. Sardines. A favourite fish on the barbeque in the Mediterranean countries, they are commonly eaten out of tins. A serving of tinned sardines contains roughly 2200mg of Omega-3 (4).
5. Anchovies. These are tiny fish that are usually eaten in very small portions, such as pizza or salad toppings. They have a strong flavour and are a rich source of calcium.
6. Flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are small brown or yellow seeds, which are often ground, milled or used to make oil. They can be added to cereals, soups or smoothies. These seeds are the richest whole food source of the Omega-3 fatty acid, ALA. They are high in fibre, and a good source of vitamin E and magnesium.
7. Chia seeds. Chia seeds are high in protein, fibre, manganese and calcium. They are served sprinkled on cereals or in smoothies, or they can be soaked overnight and served with fresh fruit. A serving contains around 4900mg of Omega-3 ALA.
8. Walnuts. A nutritious nut that is high in fibre and vitamin E. They can be eaten as a snack, or added to your morning bowl of oats.
If you have a child who is a fussy eater or doesn’t like oily fish, you can always choose to give them a fish oil supplement to top up their diet. If you decide to do this, make sure you give them one designed specifically for children.
Haliborange children’s Omega-3 supplements come in a delicious tasting orange syrup or in a chew to make them more enjoyable for children to take.
* The beneficial effect for the heart is obtained with a daily intake of 250mg EPA/DHA. The beneficial effect for brain and vision is obtained with a daily intake of 250mg DHA.