Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Omega 3 fatty acids are long chain fatty acids that are important for brain function, from the embryonic stage and throughout life. With children, Omega 3 fatty acids are especially important for brain development and functioning. Recent research points to high EPA dosages as being especially beneficial.
The best food source for an adequate dietary supply of these fatty acids is cold water fish. In recent years, however, a significant decrease in the consumption of fish has been observed in children, leading to dietary deficits of omega-3. Studies and surveys conducted worldwide demonstrate that only a small percentage of children consume the recommended dietary intake of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids (1).
Numerous studies published during the last decade demonstrate a correlation between low blood levels of EPA and DHA and various neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD in children (2)(3).
Along the same lines, a new study conducted with children suffering from malnutrition, showed that 3 months of high dosages of Omega 3 and specifically EPA benefited more than 50% of children of the treatment group, having greater improvement in 11 of the 18 neuropsychological variables studied. Moreover, perceptual integration, processing speed, visual-motor coordination, attention and executive function showed improvement in more than 70% of the children receiving Omega 3 supplementation (4).
A ground-breaking study published in 2005 with children with DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder) demonstrated that providing High EPA supplementation for 3 months led to a significant improvement in reading, spelling, and behavior (5).
A large meta-analysis published in 2011 that included 10 interventional studies substantiated the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for children with ADHD, emphasizing that specifically High EPA dosages had been found to have a positive effect on participants (6).
Correlation between EPA dosage and the effect on study participants (6)
`Effect Size` relates to the statistical significance of the effects of EPA, as discovered in the meta-analysis. The graph shows that an increase in EPA dosages translated into more significant effects on research participants.
While the benefits of Omega 3 and especially EPA fatty acids have been scientifically established, the consumption of fish, the main source of omega-3, is not very prevalent among children, and the taste, smell and texture of omega-3 oil is often a challenge for them.