As with adults, health experts recommend kids should eat at least two portions of fish a week, including a portion of oily fish such as fresh salmon or tuna.
Here, we round up some of the reasons why including fish as part of your child’s diet can benefit them in the short and long term.
Start them young
Children as young as seven months can start eating fish. In fact, it’s important for kids to consume plenty of protein and iron to grow and develop. Health experts recommend children eat one or two portions of foods high in both each day, which include beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat.
Food for thought
Fish is a great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids which kids need to support brain development and function. In fact, it’s believed around half of the fat in our brains is made up of an omega 3 called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Several studies have shown that consuming essential fatty acids helps to boost concentration levels in children – from toddlers to teenagers.
Omega fatty acids have been linked with poor social behaviour and communication, and a recent major review of clinical trials concluded they are also an effective and safe treatment for children with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), who were found to have lower fatty acid levels in their blood compared with children without the condition.
Let the sunshine in
Living in Britain, particularly in the winter months, it is hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun so that’s where diet becomes very important. Oily fish, such as salmon and trout, are especially high in vitamin D which in turns helps the body to absorb calcium, vital for bone growth and strength.
A serious shortage of vitamin D in the body can cause the bone-softening condition rickets. Increasingly cloudy weather in Britain over the last 20 years is thought to be behind an increase in the numbers affected by rickets. Prevention and treatment both focus on ensuring kids consume sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D on a regular basis.
Researchers in the US recently discovered that children who eat fish once a week not only have higher IQ scores, they also sleep better.
That’s likely because previous studies have shown better sleep improves performance and IQ. The researchers in the recent study also found that increased fish consumption was associated with better quality of sleep as well as quantity – so it’s a win-win all round for parents.
For teenagers struggling with skin problems, seafood rich in omega-3 fats can be helpful in encouraging the body to produce anti-inflammatory compounds to help calm affected areas. Fish is also rich in zinc which supports the function of our oil-producing sebaceous glands and helps keep skin soft and supple.