Omega 3

A New Fish Oil + Lutein for Kids to Protect the Eyes from Electronic Devices

We’ve written about fish oil many times before, especially on how great it is for kids.

I’ve read a few new studies lately that have made me want to highlight it again, plus we’ve just found a new fish oil for kids by Barleans that has added lutein, which is the first kid’s product I’ve ever seen combining the two nutrients.

The benefits of omega 3 fish oil for kids are many, with a whole list of researched and documented benefits including better performance at school- especially reading scores, better impulse control and behavior, and even a new study that reported that kids who took omega 3 fish oil slept better at night than those who didn’t.

In addition, supplementation of omega 3 fish oil for kids is especially important since omega 3s must be obtained either through diet or supplements since the body cannot make the nutrient itself. Many adults eat fatty fish multiple times a week, but it’s extremely rare for that to be the case with kids (and if you’re the rare person whose child is eating salmon four times a week, I definitely commend you!), so in most cases, supplementation of omega 3 fish oil is necessary.

Fish oil as a kid’s supplement is something that has been around for many years, but the fantastic addition of lutein can really make a difference in kid’s health.

Many adults take lutein to protect and preserve their vision, but new research is highlighting the importance of lutein  (a nutrient related to vitamin A) to protect children’s eyesight against strain and damage from exposure to blue light from electronic devices like phones and tablets.

Research suggests that continued exposure to blue light from electronic devices can lead to damage in the cells in the retina, damage that is most often manifests over the years as macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is something usually seen in older adults, and is the leading cause of vision loss as we age. Scientists are now speculating that the ubiquitous use of electronic devices among children (now starting at younger and younger ages) may, as time passes, cause vision problems earlier than ever seen before.

This unique new kid’s fish oil and lutein combination we’re recommending by Barleans is called Omega Pals Hooty Fruity Tangerine Fish Oil + Eye Nutrition, which is kind of a mouthful. It combines not only omega 3 fish oil with lutein, but also has added zeaxanthin and astaxanthin, two other eye nutrients that work with lutein to further protect the eyes- particularly the retina and the macula, the two parts of the eye crucial to sharp, clear vision where damage is most often seen over time.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that these kid’s fish oils by Barleans are absolutely delicious. Most parents laugh at the idea of trying to get their kids to take liquid fish oil, but Barleans has found a way to make a flavored fish oil that is not at all fishy tasting, but also one that is made in a way that keeps it from being oily- it’s more of a creamy or custardy consistency, with a nice orange flavor. I have given my daughter the kid’s liquid fish oils from Barleans since she was about two years old, and she absolutely loves the taste. I even have a picture from years ago, when she was in her highchair and had somehow gotten a hold of the Barleans liquid fish oil I had on the table (it was a lemon cream flavor that they had at the time), and she  had grabbed the bottle and was literally pouring it into her mouth since she liked the taste so much!

The nice thing is that there is no downside to supplementation with lutein and eye supplements for kids, only benefits. There is no conclusive proof that has shown that years of exposure to electronic devices, beginning in childhood, will absolutely cause eye damage and degeneration. That’s because this has never happened before. Children growing up now are the first generation to be exposed to electronic devices practically since birth. The light now coming from computers, phones, and tablets is something different than any of us grew up with.

If thirty or forty years from now all those kids who were using electronic devices so much as kids grow up to have perfect eyes, well that would be wonderful, but the possible (and exceedingly likely) alternative- an entire generation of adults who will grow up to have vision problems like macular degeneration, appearing earlier and younger than ever before, is something to be prevented if at all possible.

Macular degeneration, as many adults know, is something that cannot be treated. There is no way to reverse it, but it can be prevented or slowed by proper nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin which help to protect the eyes against damage.

This new product by Barleans containing both fish oil and eye supplements for kids is something that can make a real difference for kids, both for their health now as well as eye health long term.

Stop by the store for more information and so we can help you further!

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Barlean’s Omega Pals Hooty Fruity Tangerine Fish Oil + Eye Nutrition:

  • For children ages 1 year+

  • Made with Barlean’s ultra-purified, Fresh Catch® fish oil

  • Contains Lutemax 2020® Lutein & Zeaxanthin plus Astaxanthin to protect eyes from digital device use*

  • 500mg Omega-3 EPA & DHA per serving

  • Sweet taste and creamy texture

  • Emulsified for 3X better absorption

  • Non-GMO, gluten Free, sugar free, dairy free

  • No artificial flavors or colors

  • No fish burps!


Eating fish may not be the best way to get your Omega 3s

Omega 3s are absolutely crucial for our health; they’re called essential fatty acids because they must be obtained through either our diet or supplements and cannot be manufactured in the body. Omega 3 fish oil is beneficial to cardiovascular health, brain function, and joint health. Omega 3s can help to lower cholesterol, boost mood, and reduce inflammation in the body, and have been the subject of countless positive research studies for a long list of ailments over the years.

In the past, if a person ate fish a couple times a week, they would usually think that their omega 3 needs would be covered, though new research is finding that eating fish might not be equal to fish oil supplements.

Unfortunately, most of the fish available to us in the United States are farmed fish, which aren’t as high in omega 3 fatty acids. Additionally, popular fish like tilapia are more concentrated in omega 6 fatty acids than omega 3s. The American diet is very high in omega 6 fatty acids from vegetable oils and other sources, and low in omega 3s. Another popular fish, cod, stores very little omega 3 fatty acids in its flesh, and is often cooked in omega 6 oils.

Another concern, other than the lower omega 3 content of many fish, is the unfortunate impurity of our ocean waters. Many fish are now found with very high levels of mercury, including tuna, swordfish, orange roughy, king mackerel, tilefish, and more. Pregnant women are advised to avoid these fish, but in truth, no amount of mercury or other ocean contaminants are good for us.

In contrast, quality fish oil supplements (not all brands, so be sure to check) are tested to be free of mercury, lead, and other toxic metals. Additionally, omega 3 supplements will list exactly how much EPA and DHA (the beneficial parts of the omega 3 oils) that they contain.

95% of the American population does not consume enough EPA and DHA to benefit heart health, and since the potency of fish oil supplements can vary widely, it’s important to choose a product that is specifically made to have a high potency of EPA and DHA per pill, so you get the best benefit from your fish oil supplements.

A fantastic, high quality fish oil supplement that we recommend is Carlson’s Elite Omega. Carlson is a family owned Illinois company that specializes in wild caught, sustainably sourced fish oils from Norway. Their Elite Omegas have an amazing 1,600mg of omega 3s per serving, and also contain a bit of lemon oil inside their softgels, which can take care of any of the fishiness some people may experience from fish oil supplements.

Our Carlson Elite Omega Fish Oil Supplements will be on sale for 20% off for the month of October, so it’s a great time to give them a try!

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A New Favorite: Carlson's Omega 3 Olive Oil

We have a new product in stock from Carlson that I really wanted to highlight- it’s a premium olive oil with added omega 3’s called Olive Your Heart. As many of you know, omega 3s are absolutely crucial to our health- it’s not called an “essential fatty acid” for nothing!  

Omega 3s are important for both children and adults for their many benefits for brain function (including concentration and focus, reducing the symptoms of depression), heart and cardiovascular health (by reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure), arthritis and more. 

Omega 3s cannot be manufactured in the body and must be obtained through diet. If you or your family members are not eating fatty fish or a good amount of flax and chia seeds multiple times a week, a deficiency in omega 3s are extremely likely.

I love this olive oil by Carlson, because it’s an easy way to boost omega 3s in your diet. Even for people who take vegetarian sources like flax or chia I would recommend it since the omega 3s in flax and chia do not contain EPA or DHA, but rather ALA, which the body then converts to the necessary omega 3 forms, EPA and DHA. The trouble with ALA is that not everyone converts it at the same rate, that there’s really no way of knowing how much EPA and DHA you’re getting. This is especially important for brain and eye health, since it’s primarily DHA that gives those benefits. For more information on the differences in various forms of omega 3s, see our article, All About Omegas, here.

When I first heard about this new “fish oil olive oil” by Carlson, I was skeptical, since who wants a fish flavored olive oil, even if you’re a fan of fish?  Well, we tried the Olive Your Heart olive oil and everyone loved it, there was no fishy taste at all. I’m a vegetarian, so I just smelled it, but let me say this- I am extremely sensitive to the smell of fish, and there was no fishy smell at all.

Even though we’re a vegetarian family, I do give omega 3s from fish oil to my second-grade daughter because the research on omega 3 fish oil, particularly DHA for children’s developing brains, is too important and conclusive. When I gave her a bit of Carlson’s Olive Your Heart on her pasta, she thought it was delicious, and didn’t notice any strange smell or taste. Liz, who works at the store, has also been using this omega 3 olive oil with her family (without advertising the fact that it contained fish oil) and they all think it tastes great.

Fish oil supplements can sometimes be a pain to take, so this is a great tasting alternative to omega 3 softgels. Even for people who regularly take omega 3 supplements, it’s a great way to get an extra boost for your health.

Click on any of the above photos to enlarge.

A Helpful Tip: Chewable Gummy Vitamins for Kid’s Lunches

In general, for kids, we think hard chewables are better for kid’s multivitamins, since they usually have more complete ingredients, and/or higher potencies of vitamins. However, I wanted to share a helpful tip regarding gummy vitamins which has helped our family and that I’ve found to be especially useful.

My first grader takes a lunch to school every day, and I’ve gotten in the habit of putting gummy vitamins for her to take in with her sandwich. Most schools would balk at seeing regular hard vitamins in a school lunch (understandably, since they can look like medicine), but the gummy vitamins we have at the store just look like candy or fruit snacks. I’ve found it to be a perfect solution for us since I never forget to give her her vitamins (I do a gummy multivitamin, an omega 3 chewable gummy, and a gummy probiotic), and she loves having them in her lunch since the gummies taste like a treat (I don’t usually give her fruit snacks or the like, so the gummy vitamins are a special thing in her mind).

We have a number of great tasting gummy vitamins at the store which are “kid approved” for taste.

Multivitamins

While multivitamins aren’t a replacement for a healthy diet, they are helpful to “fill in the gaps” especially for picky eaters. We recommend Nordic Naturals Nordic Berries Multivitamins and Yummy Bears Multivitamins.

Probiotics

Probiotics help with digestion and boost the immune system naturally.  Research has shown that kids who take probiotics on a regular basis get fewer upper respiratory infections than kids who do not take probiotics.  We recommend Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora Sour Gummies.

Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids help with brain function, improving concentration and focus.  Omega 3s must be obtained through diet, since the body does not manufacture them, so if a child isn’t eating fatty fish on a regular basis, it is likely they’re deficient.  We recommend Yummy Bears Omega 3 + DHA and Nordic Natural's Omega 3 Gummies.

 

Stop by the store and we'd be happy to help find the children's vitamins right for your family!
 

Hemp Seeds: They're Awesome (and are a great source of protein and omegas)

Have you tried hemp seeds?  If not, you really should. They’re delicious and are incredibly nutrient dense.

Hemp is related to the marijuana plant but does not contain marijuana's mood-altering THC. Hemp seeds are completely legal in the US. Hemp seeds, either in their shelled form or ground as hemp protein are a wonderful whole food that is a boost to any diet. Hemp seeds are high in protein and amino acids, in fact, one 30 gram serving of shelled hemp seeds has over 10 grams of protein and 10 grams of amino acids- three of which are omega 3 fatty acids which are so lacking in most American diets. Hemp seeds also contain the rare omega 6 fatty acids known as GLA. GLA has been shown to help with balancing hormones and lubricating skin. GLA is available in supplement form as borage or primrose oil softgels, but hemp seeds are the only whole food which GLA is naturally found.

Hemp has double the protein of flax or chia seeds (not that I’m badmouthing either of them- I love flax and chia) and hemp also has a broader spectrum of omega fatty acids as well as all ten essential amino acids. They also don’t contain gluten, soy, or dairy, so they’re a nice nutrient boost for people with food allergies.

For hemp seeds, we recommend the Nutiva brand, since I truly believe they’re the best. They’re organic (which also means they’re GMO-free), cold processed (heat can destroy some of the beneficial compounds in hemp seeds), and are completely chemical free. I’ve had other brands of hemp seeds which I didn’t think tasted as good- Nutiva’s hemp seeds taste absolutely delicious- they’re nutty, sweet, and savory all at the same time.

Check out our recipe section for two delicious hemp seed recipes, but they can also be eaten by themselves or sprinkled on top of salads and cereals. Hemp seeds are softer than seeds like sunflower seeds, so they’re easy to add to any foods. They’re also a great addition to a morning smoothie!

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Q & A: Omega 3 Fish Oil vs. Flax Oil

Q: From what I’ve read, fish and flax both have omega 3’s.  I guess I’m wondering which is better to take.  It’s kind of a confusing subject.  Thanks!

A: Omega 3 fatty acids are important for so many aspects of health, from brain function to heart health and lowering cholesterol to joint health and reducing inflammation in the body, along with many others.  Due to their many benefits, it’s important to note that they cannot be synthesized by the body, and must be either added through the diet- by fatty fish and flaxseed- or by supplements.

Flax oil and fish oil are the two main forms of omega 3 fatty acids, though as you mentioned, there is much confusion about the differences between the two.  Flax is the obvious form for vegetarians, but other than that there are benefits to both forms.

One thing which makes fish oil more attractive is that it’s more concentrated than flax oil. The recommended dose (approximately, depending on the concentration) for fish oil is one to three softgels a day, as opposed to flax oil, which has a recommended dose of one to two tablespoons per day (one tablespoon per 100lbs of body weight).   If a person prefers to only take one or two pills a day, fish oil is the obvious choice, and of course it’s important to look for a fish oil that is high in omega 3 fatty acids, since they can vary widely when comparing different products.  

The forms of omega 3s found in fish and flax oil are slightly different.   Fish oil’s omega 3s are in the form of EPA and DHA (the DHA form of omega 3 is especially important for brain function), where flax oil is in the form of ALA (alpha linolenic acid).  ALA needs to be converted in the body to EPA and DHA, and age, sex, and other factors can interfere with our body’s ability to efficiently convert ALA to EPA and DHA.   

ALA is the plant form of omega-3, and the reason fish oil already contains EPA and DHA is because the fish who have eaten green plants have already converted the ALA into EPA and DHA.   If you are especially concerned about enhancing brain function, fish oil might be a better choice than flax (since the DHA is ready to be absorbed instead of having to be converted).

One benefit of flax oil over fish oil is that flax oil is cold pressed, unfiltered, and unprocessed where fish oil is processed to make sure it’s free of contaminants like lead and mercury.  Another advantage of flax oil is its use for preventing cancer.  Flax oil contains lignans (plant compounds that work as antioxidants) which have been shown to help prevent cancer and benefit cancer patients.  Flax oil is also frequently taken by body builders to help build muscle (interestingly, Hilary Swank drank huge amounts of flax oil a day to help gain 20 lbs of muscle quickly for the movie Million Dollar Baby).

All in all, flax and fish oil are both great forms of omega-3 fatty acids that each have their own benefits. Stop by the store and we’ll be happy to give you more information and find the supplement that’s right for you.