CAT | Oil Supplements
Because first years are critical to a child’s physical and neurological development, promoting good dietary habits early in life can have lasting health benefits. However, a new study shows our nation’s kids may not be getting enough of the nutrients they need—in particular the beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that play an important role in promoting eye, brain and bone health.*
Scientists at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital recently completed a groundbreaking study of nearly 2,500 children between the ages of 1 and 5 years. Results of the study, published online in September, revealed the overall intake among U.S. children of key fatty acids such as DHA and EPA was significantly lower than the amounts consumed by children in many other countries.
According to Sarah Keim, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, “The ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 intake was high—about 10. Some experts use this as an indicator of diet quality, with a high ratio being less healthy. In addition, intake of a key fatty acid known as DHA in children 12 to 60 months of age was low—lower than what infants generally consume—and it did not increase with age.”
The study also revealed that most American children are not consuming two 3-ounce servings of fish per week, which the Institute of Medicine considers a “reasonable intake.” While currently there are no official dietary recommendations for DHA and EPA intake or supplementation in children, researchers hope studies like this one will encourage health professionals to more closely examine the dietary needs of young children and possibly consider putting into place specific recommendations.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the fastest growing pediatric research centers in the United States and is ranked in the top 10 for National Institutes of Health funding among free-standing children’s hospitals. The Research Institute engages in high-quality, cutting-edge research according to the highest scientific and ethical standards. The goal is simple: improved health for all children and their families.
Beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish provide numerous health benefits. In clinical studies, Omega-3s have been shown to promote healthy heart and brain function, as well as support the nervous system, digestive system and other organs.* Now, scientists believe the healthy oils may provide additional support for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
A team of experts from the Oregon Health & Science University Department of Neurology recently conducted a randomized placebo-controlled pilot trial to evaluate the effects of supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid (an antioxidant) in Alzheimer’s patients. After a 12-month treatment period, they found that participants taking a combination of Omega-3 fatty acids plus ALA experienced reduced cognitive and functional decline.
While further research is planned to evaluate the combination as a possible treatment for the disease, the results of the study are encouraging. “The ultimate outcome is to be able to look at these (treatments) as a potential preventive formula—if someone could take a gram or two grams a day of fish oil before signs of the disease, it’s preventive in that it’s either decreasing the chance of turnover to Alzheimer’s disease or it’s delaying its progression. And I like the idea of using something that is cheap, accessible and easy to take,” said Lynne Shinto, N.D., assistant professor of neurology and the project’s lead investigator.
According to the OHSU study abstract, oxidative stress, inflammation, and increased cholesterol levels are all mechanisms that have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease pathology, and several studies have reported a decreased risk of the disease associated with fish oil consumption.