Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Kids: Benefits, Side Effects, & Food Sources

Learn about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for children's health and development, including their benefits for brain function, heart health, asthma, ADHD, and more. Discover good food sources and potential side effects of omega-3 supplements. Consult a healthcare professional before giving your child any supplements.

As a parent, you may wonder why your child needs omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that play an important role in children's growth and development. They cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained through diet. In this article, we'll explore what omega-3s are, their benefits for children, potential side effects, good food sources, and recommended daily intake.

What is Omega-3 Fatty Acid?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that includes EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). EPA and DHA are primarily found in fish and other seafood, while ALA is found in plant-based sources such as nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.

Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Kids

1. Promote Brain Health and Development:

Omega-3s play a crucial role in brain development and function. They help improve memory, cognitive function, and attention in children.

2. Healthy Heart:

Omega-3s help maintain a healthy heart by reducing inflammation, lowering triglycerides, and reducing the risk of heart disease.

3. Improve Behavior:

Omega-3s may improve behavior in children by increasing their ability to learn and reducing anxiety, depression, and aggression.

4. Improve Concentration:

High levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood have been associated with better concentration in children.

5. Improve Eye Health:

DHA is a primary structural component of the retina and is important for healthy vision in children.

6. Improve Risk Factors of Asthma:

Omega-3s may help reduce the risk of asthma in children by reducing airway inflammation and improving lung function.

7. Improve Sleep:

Omega-3s help regulate sleep by increasing the production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Adequate levels of omega-3s in children have been associated with better sleep quality.

8. Mental Development:

DHA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids, is a major component of the brain and helps support mental development in children. Low levels of DHA have been linked to an increased risk of memory problems and dyslexia.

9. Reduce Mood Changes:

Omega-3 supplements may help reduce mood swings in children with bipolar disorder and reduce the risk of relapse.

10. Reduce Symptoms of ADHD in Children:

Omega-3 supplements have been found to reduce symptoms of ADHD such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and aggression in some children.

11. Stabilizing Emotions:

Omega-3s may help stabilize and regulate emotions in children when consumed early on or from an early age.

12. Support Memory Function:

Omega-3s have been linked to improved memory function and may help reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.

Side Effects

  • Excessive intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids can lead to potential side effects.
  • Side effects include bleeding, stomach upset, and diarrhea.
  • Children with bleeding disorders or those taking blood-thinning medications should avoid high doses of Omega-3s.
  • Always consult a healthcare professional before giving your child any Omega-3 supplements.

Food sources

Foods Containing Omega-3 are -

  • Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, anchovies, sardines, and freshwater trout.
  • Plant sources such as soybean, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, spinach, and seeds and nuts – walnut, mustard seeds, vegetable oils, and uncooked flax oils (for example, a teaspoon of flaxseed oil to a fruit smoothie, and so on).
  • Another excellent source is eggs.
  • Dairy products such as butter, milk, yogurt.
  • Fortified with omega-3 fatty acids such as **orange juice, milk, soy milk, and yogurt. **

Omega-3 Supplements for Kids

  • Some kids may not get enough omega-3s from their diet, so supplements can help.
  • Fish oil or krill oil supplements are common choices for parents.
  • Some kids' multivitamins also include omega-3s.
  • Choose a "kid-friendly" gel capsule or chewable supplement.
  • Look for a brand high in DHA, which is the most important omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Consult a healthcare professional before giving your child any supplements.

Potential side effects with omega-3s supplements

  • Rare side effects may include bad breath, headaches, or upset stomach.
  • Stick to the recommended dosage to reduce the risk of unwanted side effects.
  • Use utmost care when giving supplements to children.

RDA of Omega 3 Fatty Acids for Child

For children, RDA of omega-3s is-

0 to 12 months - 0.5 gm/d

1 to 3 years - 0.7 gm/d

4 to 8 years - 0.9 gm/d

9 to 13 years (boys) - 1.2 gm/d

9 to 13 years (girls) - 1.0 gm/d


Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain health, good sleep, healthy growth, and reducing symptoms of ADHD. High omega-3 foods should be included in your child's diet. Consult a doctor for the right dosage if considering a supplement.

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