There’s a new ‘street drug’ doing the rounds and you might even have it in your house… It’s a rich source of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and is considered essential for normal growth and health. It has also shown benefits in brain development and cognitive function, the kind of functions you might want to optimise in school children.
Despite these benefits, (and there are many more) this ‘drug’ is considered a threat to school children… At least, that’s what the Legal Services for the Sioux Falls School District, in the US, think of omega-3 fish oil.
Hard-core drug dealer or just nutritionally aware?
When an omega-3 capsule fell out of 15-year-old Nic Sutton’s gym bag, a friend asked him what it was. Nic said it was only a supplement. So, his friend asked him if it was okay to take one and Nic said “sure it’s just a vitamin.”
Little did Nic know that giving the supplement to his friend would land him with a potential drug charge, a 15 day suspension from school and the embarrassment of enduring drug counselling!
Nic is clearly from a family who know about the importance of good nutrition and should be applauded. However, they are in the minority. Nearly 30 per cent of the daily energy intake in the average child’s diet consists of processed, sugary, fatty snacks. Vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients hardly come into the picture.
Both UK and US diet and nutrition surveys show that the intake of some essential vitamins like vitamin C, stand at an average of 83mg per day for UK teenagers and 86mg, in the US. These amounts fail to reach the recommended daily allowance (RDA) and we all know that these ‘government-approved’ amounts are far too low for optimum nutrition anyway… especially for growing children! No wonder some people say the RDA actually stands for “Really Dumb Amount”.
To avoid malnutrition, many people (including Nic’s family), have chosen to give their children supplements like fish oil to boost their omega-3 intake. This is one of the wisest things parents can do, because numerous studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids (for more information click here) have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that protect our hearts, boost immunity, fight cancer, reduce the risk of asthma, combat depression and even help with skin problems like acne (typical among teenagers).
Not only that, but they have also been found to help improve the behaviour of children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and those with violent and antisocial tendencies. These behavioural problems are almost certainly a result of an unbalanced and nutritionally deficient diet. So, it makes no sense that clear-thinking adults would hint that omega 3 is in the same category as mood-altering pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs.
Plus, recent research has shown that a diet lacking in omega 3 fatty acids could cause the brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking abilities.
Change their future
If parents keep following the nutritional guidelines laid out by governments, children will remain over-fed and under-nourished. They will also face a sick future, and have a higher risk of early onset chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
No parent wants their child to be labelled as a ‘drug dealer’, so instead of sending them off to school with their daily dose of supplements it may be wise that they take them at home.
In addition, here are some general guidelines that will help improve your child or grandchild’s diet:
- Reduce or cut out eating on the run and only provide them with healthy snacks, like fresh fruit.
- Use quality fresh whole foods, locally grown and organic if possible, when you cook.
- Include oily fish, like salmon, 3 times a week in their meal plan.
- Avoid heating or frying with polyunsaturated fats: use coconut oil for cooking as it’s more stable at high temperatures.
- Add plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, of varying colours, to their diet.
- Reduce their intake of refined and processed foods.
- Always use whole grains and reduce wheat intake.
- Include plenty of calcium-containing dark green leafy vegetables.
- Ensure exposure to sunshine (without burning) and consider supplementing with vitamin D3. There has been an increase in childhood rickets recently, due to widespread vitamin D deficiency.
- Use mineral rich salt, like Himalayan salt, instead of table salt.
- Avoid low-fat high sugar ‘diet’ foods, and artificial sweeteners, colourings and preservatives.
- Drink plenty of water and steer clear of fizzy drinks at all costs.
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Drug counselling for US adolescent dealing fish oil, published online, anh-europe.org
SF Student Suspended For Sharing Vitamins, published online 05 03 12, kdlt.com
Find out more about Omega 3 fish oil. Then you’ll know why YOU need it in your diet, published online, healthyomega3.com