The brain of your child grows at an incredible rate during pregnancy and during the first few years of his life. Starting from the second half of your pregnancy until your child is about 4 years of age, the baby’s brain begins to rapidly accumulate DHA. No other fatty acids accumulate in the brain like DHA does.
DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 Fatty Acid. It is mainly found in fortified food products, seafood and fish oil. It is essential for the brain and eye development of your child and should be taken throughout your pregnancy.
Research says that children require omega-3 fatty acids the same way they require vitamins. For eg, DHA is required for brain development, the same way calcium is required for bone development of your little ones.
Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits both for the mother and the child which span from reduced risk of premature birth, to preventing postpartum depression in new moms to improved cognitive functions in infants. Studies have proven that DHA taken during pregnancy leads to many other benefits like creating a protective shield against developing obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes throughout life. Omega-3 Fatty acids which include DHA, have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body , which is one of the reasons why they help protect against chronic diseases.
Richa Chowdhary, a mother to a 5 year old boy said, “When I was pregnant with my boy, my gynecologist explained to me the importance of DHA for both mother and baby. Later my child’s paediatric doctor too told me why DHA is so important for a growing kid’s brain development and how should I ensure that he gets sufficient amount of DHA from his diet.”
Now, let’s look up on the connection between DHA and your child’s brain. Does it make your child smarter or more intelligent? Well, it definitely helps increase his concentration which in turn increases his learning, understanding and grasping power.
Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in plants is known as is ALA (alpha-Linolenic acid). It is found in walnuts, flaxseeds and other food plants. So, does a child get the required amount of omega-3 fatty acids by consuming products rich in ALA? Unfortunately, the answer is “No”. The process of breaking down these sort of food plants for the body to absorb the necessary amount of omega-3 fatty acids is complicated and most of the time the body doesn’t get the necessary amount of ALA required. What’s the best next source then? It can be fish and fish oil or else it has to be food and drink supplements rich in DHA.
How much DHA does your child require? As per studies, kids require 250mg of Omega-3 fatty acids or 2 servings of fatty fish every week. For expecting mothers, 200mg of DHA would be required every day for sufficient nutrition for themselves and their babies.
Unfortunately, many are aware about the needs of DHA for expecting mothers and their babies but not for children. But DHA is as important in a child’s dietary supplement as is any other nutrition like iron, Calcium and Vitamin D.
Also read: 5 Benefits of DHA during Pregnancy
Paediatric doctors recommend DHA for all growing children either from natural sources like fish and fish oils or from supplements rich in DHA. It influences the brain functioning of growing kids in many ways. It also helps to improve their eyesight as well.
The human brain is divided into lobes and the frontal lobes are responsible for focus, attention, planning and problem-solving. The prefrontal lobe on the other hand is linked to social, emotional and behavioral development. Researchers believe that optimal levels of DHA, particularly in the frontal and prefrontal areas of the brain, are very important during the early years – this is when the brain is rapidly growing and developing. It sets the stage of future socio-emotional development.
DHA is also tied to future intelligence of growing children or their cognition. So, what is cognition? Your child’s ability to play, remember what he has learned and his language development skills are due to his cognitive powers. Cognition also includes problem-solving, comprehension, reasoning, computation, perception, reading and speech.
Thus, it can be seen that the development of cognition in the early years, may directly impact a child’s current and future mental abilities, thinking and performance and future success in school.
Also read: DHA – Is It Must For Your Baby?
Thus, with the close association of DHA with your child’s cognitive skill development, it can be clearly inferred that DHA is an essential nutrient required for your growing kid and parents must make an attempt to ensure that their child gets the requisite dose of DHA, either through natural food sources or through dietary supplements.
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