If Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are types of fats that have to be included in the diet since they cannot be produced by the body. EFAs help build cells, promote the development of the nervous system, boost immunity, strengthen the cardiovascular system and enable the bodies to absorb nutrients. There are two types of EFAs: omega 3 (linolenic) and omega 6 (linoleic). Both have great importance to infants and adults, but this guide will focus on the usefulness of omega 3 for babies.
Omega 3: The Facts
Babies need to get the best start to everything in life, and especially when it comes to nutrition. The right nutrients, in well balanced quantities and at the right time will help them to grow and thrive. Omega 3 is very important for brain and eye development in babies, before and after they are born. Some mothers will supplement with fish oil, but vegan options are also available. Additionally, some studies have shown that these essential fatty acids also help in the management of psychological as well as behavioral conditions since they help neutransmitters to function well.
Poorer reading ability has been attributed to insufficient levels of certain types of omega 3 fats in children, and supplementation led to improved memory functions. When the cells of the body are deprived of EFAs, they go ahead to manufacture “replacement fatty acids” which are similar but they could be harmful. In fact, children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) have been found to have high levels of replacement fatty acids.
Types Of Omega 3 Fats
There are three types of omega 3 fats, namely eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the third one is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Both EPA and DHA are marine-based, so they are found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring. ALA is a fatty acid which is found in plants such as walnuts, kale and flaxseeds. When consumed, the body partly changes ALA into DHA and EPA.
You can also buy foods that have been fortified with omega 3 such as peanut butter, yoghurt and margarine. The content can vary from one brand to another, so also always make a point of reading the label.
Foods Before Supplements
It is better for babies to eat oily fish rather than taking supplements. The reason is because oily fish is rich in vitamin D and other vital vitamins and minerals that help in growth and development. Experiment with a few recipes to as to come up with some new family favorites. As a start, you can bake salmon in teriyaki or honey barbecue sauce. Select flavors that your kids like.
If your toddlers are not fish fans, use flaxseed oil instead. Put a teaspoon in a smoothie, or incorporate peanut butter in other foods and snacks. You can also try adding ground flaxseeds to casseroles, soups and even breadcrumbs when baking chicken cutlets.
But Isn’t Fat Bad?
Foods that contain lots of “bad” fats are not good for the body. They include cakes, biscuits, crisps and other pastries. The “good” fats or the unsaturated ones are found in avocado, oily fish and olive oil. Unsaturated fats produce lots of energy even in small amounts, making them ideal for the tiny tummies of babies.