Now school is well and truly back and we are settling into the autumn term, it seems like the perfect time to consider your child’s health and well being. One of the major challenges for children through a new school year is maintaining sustained attention, mood and behaviour in the classroom and some find it tough to adjust. If your child doesn’t seem very interested in learning, tends to resist doing homework and complains about not liking school, you might want to take a closer look at their diet and see whether they’re getting all the nutrients they need for brain health.
Dr. Emma Derbyshire, public health nutritionist and an advisor to Equazen said: “Maintaining a good diet is vital for helping a child ease back into school. Parents are doing a brilliant job when it comes to building in ‘five a day’ for their children, but many struggle to include the Government recommended portion of fish and oily fish per week and the Omega-3 fatty acids that impact brain health.”
There are three types of Omega-3:
- Omega-3 Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), found in oily fish and seafood, which makes up 40% of the healthy fats found in the brain and helps reaction time and sustained attention.
- Omega-3 Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), found in oily fish and seafood, which plays an important role in mood and behaviour.
- Omega-3 Alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which cannot be immediately absorbed and used by the body – it has to be converted into DHA and EPA to be useful.
Dr. Emma Derbyshire continues: “A growing body of research suggests that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA may help to improve children’s mood, attention and behaviour, particular amongst those with low intakes of these essential fatty acids or conditions such as ADHD.”
Results from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey show that over the past nine years we have made little improvement in encouraging our children to eat oily fish. Of the 140g a week that is recommended, children consume between 13 and 29g. So, if your children don’t like fish, they may not be getting the levels of omegas needed to perform at their best.
Dr. Emma Derbyshire said: “ “Ideally, children should obtain all the essential fatty acids they need from their diet, but where this isn’t possible, supplements such as Equazen liquid and chews are available as a supplement to help bridge any potential nutritional gaps and support brain function.”
If your children don’t like certain foods including oily fish, then supplements, such as Equazen Children’s Chews, are available that have the fishy taste and odour removed and use natural flavours (without sugar), or liquid supplements come in vanilla and citrus flavours. These taste better but still contain Omega-6 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) and Arachidonic Acid (AA), from evening primrose oil which assist in normal nerve function, especially learning and memory.
Dr. Emma Derbyshire’s lunchbox tips for helping kids get their brains in gear for the new school year
When the children are back in school, it’s a chance for parents to get all the necessary nutrition children need into their lunchboxes.
- Offer your child or children choice and change what you offer day to day.
- Get them involved in preparing the lunch box.
- Add a bit of fun to packed lunches with a note, stickers on fruits, smiley faces drawn on bananas, sandwiches cut into shapes or a fun napkin to bring them to life.
- Include practical tools – plastic knives, forks, spoons and napkins.
- Try not to overfill lunch boxes.
- Don’t forget a drink – pack a bottle or beaker of water.
- Ask teachers for feedback on how well your child or children are eating at lunchtime.
I try to include tuna in my son’s diet, but it can be difficult sometimes because you want to ring the changes in the lunch box and sometimes children go off a sandwich filling for a while. I have been using Equazen’s Omega 3 supplements to deal with any deficiencies in H’s diet. We have tried out a few of the products from the Equazen range and I think there is something there for everyone. There’s the Liquid (Citrus Flavour) which we found the easiest for H to take. I thought the citrus taste would be very strong, but it’s quite subtle although still effective in terms of making it pleasant to take. We also tried the chews which are another good way to get children to take Omega 3. The Family Capsules are a great solution for all the family and they mean that you can just use one product for everyone. This is probably better for slightly older children (recommended for 5+) as there’s a need to be able to swallow the capsule. The capsules aren’t big, plus the shape and coating of the capsule will make them easier to swallow too.
Disclosure: This post is in association with Equazen.