Supplementing children’s diets with Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) has benefits throughout life, but is most beneficial during the childhood years when the brain and nervous system is rapidly expanding. Supplementation with Omega-3 EFA’s during childhood has been shown to increase mental capacity (measured by IQ), boost the immune system and impact a host of health-related issues such as reducing the risks of childhood asthma.
Nordic Naturals is a very popular consumer driven brand that you find prominently displayed in upscale grocery stores and big box stores. They have over 60 formulations of their fish oil products and source their fish sustainable from the relatively pristine artic waters around Norway. With so many choices, what is a parent to do? This graphic shows how much omega-3 you get in 3 different formulations and compares the price, total EFA’s delivered and if there is any sugar in the product.
The liquid Arctic Omega is obviously the most concentrated product and offers the most EFA’s per dollar spent. The only drawbacks: it requires refrigeration, has a 3-month shelf life and try getting a kid to take this without spilling it all over yourself or them, it has a fishy taste and smell despite available flavorings and stains clothing. You goal should be to get the kiddos to get their EFA’s from a liquid product, but as a mom, I know you have to pick your battles and some kids just won’t go for this or you will end up wearing it.
Another option is the Fishies gel-tab product which is a great option for kids aged 2+ who won’t take the liquid product, but are OK with foregoing the more ‘gummy’ products such as gummy worms or tangerine fish. No sugar, no mess, shelf stable, and good sized EFA dose make this a great option.
The Gummy Fish product is perhaps the one most prominently displayed in retail stores, I rarely see the gel-tab version though this is way more economical, more concentrated and delivers the goods without added sugar.
The Gummy Fish is good, but a relatively poor value and requires 6 grams of sugar for a puny dose of 126 mg Omega-3’s. This is a good start for 2 year olds, but parents should try to wean off of these quickly and sub with the gel-tab.
The gel tabs and fishies are recommended for children 2 and up because they present a choking hazard and not due to any concerns regarding the appropriateness of this supplement for children. Omega-3 supplementation is a must for all ages but especially children. There are many ways to get omega-3’s into your diet and fish oil is not the only source.
Nordic Naturals products are popular and make it easy to get kids to ingest smelly and gross fish oil but their retail presence is geared toward the low-value, high sugar brands. Parents will do well to start with the more children friendly versions and quickly get your kids onto the gel tabs and then the liquid which represents greater value and potency.
Dr. Coleen Murphy ND, LAc.