Food and Behaviour Research

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13 November 2014 - Medical Daily - Omega-3s Could Curb ADD In Kids, And Most Americans Still Don't Consume Enough

Samantha Olson

Food can be medicine if it’s used right and fed early into young, growing bodies.

Despite the overwhelming conclusive findings that omega-3 fatty acids can benefit the body in a way no other supplements can, Americans can’t meet basic recommendations. A new study from the Journal of the American Heart Association found after 30 years, Americans still aren’t eating enough healthy, brain-empowering omega-3s, which may have the power to curb ADD in children.

“First, we tried to figure out why in the last two years there’s been a sharp decrease in the amount of omega-3s people are consuming in their diets,” Executive Director of the nonprofit Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) Adam Ismail. GOED has launched “Always A Good Idea” campaign to encourage and educate the public to regularly include omega-3s into their diets. “We figured out it just comes down to reminding the public and educating them. There is a massive public deficiency and as a result they’re missing out on a lot of important brain and heart health benefits.”

“There are only two types of omega-3s we know to have a positive effect on mood, brain function, and power, and that’s EPA and DHA. Registered dietitian and author Elizabeth Somer told Medical Daily. “We know the brain benefits extremely because it’s backed by solid and reliable research. Researchers have found it’s so important and beneficial to patients with depression, the American Psychiatric Association actually recommends that these omega-3s be included with any treatment for depression, even in extreme cases.”

A contributing factor to why Americans don’t prioritize meeting omega-3 recommendations is because the government hasn’t caught up with the research yet. “We’re basically the last developed country who doesn’t officially recommend a daily omega-3 intake,” Ismail said. “The government doesn’t have the right processes in place. Doctors don’t always understand all of the benefits omega-3 can provide. It could take 3 to 5 years for the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to make it a recommendation on the nutrition labels.”

There have been literally thousands of studies analyzing and confirming over and over again how beneficial omega-3s are to the body. One of the most important findings was published in the DHA (docasahexaenoic acid) Oxford Learning and Behavior (DOLAB) study. In a double-blind randomized study, children were given either an omega-3 DHA or a placebo, and within 16 weeks parents reported a significant improvement in their child’s reading ability and behavior. There is an urgent need for effective learning interventions for children, and if these findings can be replicated, omega-3 DHA may transform into a safe and natural treatment.

“Our bodies were built on an evolutionary assembly line where we hunted, gathered, or fishes for our foods,” Somer said. “But today we eat a diet of sawdust. We need to help our bodies grow and maintain, especially little bodies. By feeding our bodies the right building blocks, we’ll be able to function correctly. It’s the whole diet that’s important, though. You can’t just feed your kids McDonald’s and soda pop and then give them a DHA supplement and think they’ll be fine.”