DHA & Kids: A Smart Supplement

by Meghan Rabbitt

DHA & Kids: A Smart Supplement

Learn Omega 3 benefits, how much your child needs—and the best sources. Plus, fun infant games that’ll get your baby’s brain buzzing!

Research shows that DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s been shown to boost a baby’s brain development, is good for children of all ages. Here’s how much DHA kids need — and the best sources, from David Perlmutter, M.D., a leading expert in the field and a neurologist in Naples, FL:

Unborn babies

Benefit: DHA during pregnancy can increase a child’s IQ by age 4.

How much: Pregnant women should get 400 mg or more daily. Prenatal vitamins don’t have enough, so take a vegetarian supplement  — not fish oil, which can contain mercury.

Newborns to 6 months

Benefit: Better hand-eye coordination at 2 years compared with babies who didn’t get enough.

How much: Breastfed babies get all they need from you as long as you’re taking a daily supplement of 400 mg or more. If you’re not nursing, look for formula containing at least 19 mg of DHA per five-ounce serving.

6 months to 2 years

Benefit: DHA jump starts the production of a hormone that’s crucial for brain development during this time of rapid growth.

How much: 100 mg daily or more from foods marked DHA-enriched, like some yogurt, cereal, and  — once your child turns 1  — milk and eggs. And serve wild Alaskan salmon, the best natural food source that’s also low in mercury. Up to four 1- to 2-ounce servings a week is safe.

Kids 2 to 5 years

Benefit: Low levels of DHA in children have been linked to an increased risk of ADHD, vision problems, and depression.

How much: 200 mg daily or more from DHA-enriched foods (see above) and wild Alaskan salmon (up to four 3-ounce servings per week).