26 novembre 2019

Child Brain Development and the Importance of Omega-3 Eggs

Blogue de la présidente
Margaret Hudson
Présidente et directrice générale des Fermes Burnbrae
4e génération d'agriculteurs

Did you ever think that eggs could be related to brain development in babies and children? It turns out that omega-3 fats – yes, the same ones that are touted for heart health in adults – are also related to brain health in our youngest family members. And omega-3 eggs are a great way to ensure your children get enough important omega-3 fats, such as DHA.

Why specifically DHA? It’s because it is a structural part of the brain and eyes, and supports normal growth and development of these important body parts. In fact, studies show that having enough DHA is vital for optimal visual and cognitive development – so it’s especially important during pregnancy and the baby years. (As I’ve previously mentioned , eggs can be introduced to babies as one of their first foods. When it’s time to add eggs to a baby’s diet, choose omega-3 eggs for the extra benefit of DHA.)

In infants and children, the brain grows at an incredibly fast pace, and rapidly accumulates DHA as part of its structure. In fact, no other fats accumulate in the brain at the same rate as DHA. Studies link sufficient amounts of DHA with improved cognitive function in infants. As kids grow and start school, studies suggest that those who consume more DHA are better able to pay attention in class and have better behaviour.

Studies have also linked low blood levels of DHA with an increased risk of a child having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavior/learning difficulties, and children show improvement when DHA levels are increased.

Having enough DHA is also linked to how well school-aged children fare with reading, memory and general behaviour problems. A study of British school-aged kids found that higher levels of omega-3 fats, and DHA in particular, are associated with better reading and working memory performance, and fewer ADHD-type symptoms, even when controlling for sex and socioeconomic status.

So just what is the right intake level for DHA in children? There are no firmly established “dietary reference intake” levels, but Dr. Bruce Holub, Professor Emeritus at University of Guelph, and an expert in omega-3 fats, cites expert opinion in this area and says that children require omega-3 DHA in these amounts:

Age                            Amount of DHA per day

Under age 2 years           100 mg/day

2-3 years old                  100 mg/day

4-8 years old                  150 mg/day

Where can kids get omega-3 DHA from? Fish is a great source of DHA, but there’s a stumbling block. Not all children enjoy fish! I remember when my kids were young, and salmon was on the menu. They didn’t love the ‘fishy’ flavour (but have grown to embrace it now!), and it was usually pushed around their plates instead of ingested.

On the other hand, most kids love eggs (including mine!), and luckily omega-3 eggs that contain DHA are a fitting option. When hens are fed a special diet that’s rich in omega-3 (by feeding hens flaxseed, for example), they can produce DHA-rich eggs. Whether your kids prefer omelets, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, rest assured that they can get enough DHA from eating an egg a day. One large Burnbrae Farms Naturegg Omega-3 or Naturegg Omega-3 Free Run egg contains 75 mg DHA, while the Naturegg Omega Plus eggs contain 125 mg of DHA per one egg, meaning they more than fill the requirement for what you child requires daily. And don’t worry – they can’t get too much DHA from eggs! A standard 3 ounce piece of salmon contains 500-1200 mg omega-3 fat – so it’s totally safe to have a few eggs instead.

An omega egg-a-day can fill the nutritional gap for kids, at a time when their brain is developing rapidly. In addition to DHA, eggs provide other important nutrients for the brain and eyes, including choline, protein and lutein.

Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms