Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fish Oil Supplementation

Benefits and how to use fish oil for children with speech delays and apraxia of speech


Children taking omega-3s have been reported to have an increase in speech (for children with speech delays), focus, attention and memory.  Why?  
The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat. We’ve learned in recent years that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are required for maintenance of optimal health but they can not synthesized by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources. Clinical observation studies has related imbalance dietary intake of fatty acids to impaired brain performance and diseases. Most of the brain growth is completed by 5-6 years of age. The EFAs, particularly the omega-3 fatty acids, are important for brain development during both the fetal and postnatal period.” (Essential Fatty Acids and Human Brain)
That means that if your child is not consuming foods with Omega-3 (such as fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, especially flaxseed) their brains may be starving for this nutrient.  Symptoms of Omega-3 deficiency include hyperactivity, speech delays, cognitive delays, extreme thirst, fatigue, constipation, poor concentration, difficulties with working memory, eczema or other skin rashes, excessive moods swings, anxiety, and difficulty falling asleep.


If you would like to supplement your child’s diet with Omega-3s, the best route is to give them fish oil, if your child does not have an allergy to fish.  For my children, I buy the liquid Nordic Naturals Omega-3 (aff link) and mix it in with their juice or yogurt and they don’t even notice it is there.  There are also gummies and vitamins, though those have a much smaller concentration of Omega-3s.  There are also capsules for children able to swallow them.  
“The following chart from Health Canada contains guidelines on how much fish oil your child needs daily.
0 to 12 months 500 mg
1 year 600 mg
2 to 3 years 700 mg
4 to 6 years 1,000 mg
7 to 9 years 1,200 mg for boys/ 1,000 mg for girls
10 to 12 years 1,400 mg for boys/ 1,200 mg for girls
13 to 15 years 1,500 mg for boys/ 1,200 mg for girls”
The most common side effects from fish oil are diarrhea and hyperactivity.  If your child experiences diarrhea, it simply means you have given them too much for their body to process.  Give them a smaller dose.  According to Kelly Dorfman in her AMAZING book Cure Your Child with Food: The Hidden Connection Between Nutrition and Childhood Ailments (aff link), if your child becomes hyper on the fish oil, it means their body is unable to process the fish oil at all.  In this case, buy some taurine and give your child 500 mg a day, and you should see the hyperactivity decrease.
Within days of starting my son on fish oil he started babbling, and within a week or so he said his first words.  It was amazing! 

Here's more research on fish oil supplementation if you're interested:

Fish Oil Information
Alternative Therapies for Apraxia
Omega 3, Vitamin E Mix Shows Potential for Autistic and Apraxic Speech
Therapeutic Use of Fish Oil for Apraxia, Autism, and Other Communication Impairments


*Disclaimer*
I am not a doctor or nutritionist.  I'm just a mom desperate to help her son and willing to share what I've learned with others who may need this information.

Also, please remember that some people have allergic reactions to fish products, or to something included in the fish oil.  Taurine will not help in that situation.

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