It seems like every time I talk with friends who have kids or grandkids, there is someone whose child has been diagnosed as being "on the spectrum". Frankly, I'm not sure what to think. This Autism or now medically referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a pretty mysterious trend that depending on the individual, sometimes offers a combination of both positive and negative abilities. Despite this, a parent's fear and anxiety when their loved ones are diagnosed with ASD is real. While there are few official treatments, there's increasing anecdotal evidence suggesting that Omega-3 fish oil can have positive benefits when taken by people diagnosed with ASD.
This article is not meant to diagnose or offer treatment advice related to autism. I am simply sharing my personal observations and thoughts from conversations that I've had with friends and family. If you have further questions, you should contact your healthcare professional and / or behavior therapist who can offer more official assistance.
However, we've discussed the benefits of Omega-3 fish oil for men previously and this is a subject that continues to intrigue me. It's an important supplement that offers significant health benefits and something everyone can benefit from.
Regarding its benefits for children with autism, Omega-3 supplements showed some improvement in certain symptoms. These include improvements in hyperactivity, lethargy, and stereotype. However, there were no significant changes vs placebo in functioning or social responsiveness.
While many parents will latch on to any article to give them hope of a miracle cure - this isn't it. However, for those people who are looking to address those areas and improve general health, Omega-3 supplements provide some benefits. They can be a positive source to decrease some symptoms of autism.
Autism causes brain inflammation, unnatural behavior, and intensive feeling disorder in children. A child with autism is hard to handle for their parents, and the expenses to treat an autistic child are more than you would expect.
Nutrition is the best part of treatment that an autistic child can get. Without enough nutrition, it is not possible to reduce brain inflammation in those children. Various nutrition-rich foods can be a good option, but buying Omega-3 fish oil is a prominent option as it is a high-powered anti-inflammatory factor for children.
The common symptoms of autism, like anxiety, ADHD, and brain-related ailments, can get a better solution with the involvement of fish oil in their diet.
What Is Fish Oil?
Fish oil is simply the fat of a fish, and if you take it off fatty fish like salmon, sardines, cod, herring, mackerel, and tuna. You'll probably get enough Omega-3 to offer a benefit if you consume large amounts of these fish as well as other nutrient-rich items such s Seaweed, Chia seeds, Hemp seeds, Walnuts, Edamame, and even foods prepared with Soybean Oil. The diet of most Americans falls far short of this and that's especially true for children as they tend to be pickier in terms of what foods they will eat.
Not all Omega-3 is the same though. There are two different elements that provide unique benefits. DHA and EPA are both found in omega-3 fats but help the body in different ways. DHA is more important in terms of supporting healthier brain and neurological functioning, including vision as well as heart health. On the other hand, EPA supports a healthy immune system and is critical for addressing inflammation-related health concerns.
Unfortunately, there's no official recommendation that is agreed on in terms of the amount of omega-3 that an adult should consume, and there's even less agreement on what amount is recommended for children. However, overdosage is unlikely as the FDA and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) agree that the unsafe limit for consuming omega-3 from supplements at anything more than 5,000 mg per day. Considering the typical omega-3 fish oil capsule is 300 mg, that would be very challenging to overdose accidentally!
Most nutritionists would recommend a daily consumption of 250-500 mg combined between DHA and EPA for adults, but many people consume as much as 1,000 mg for maximum benefit. You should ask your pharmacist, nutritionist, or other medical professional for recommendations related to your specific child though as there are many factors involved that can lead to a more complicated dosage recommendation.
When consumed naturally, though, there is less concern than with taking supplements. In fact, a simple 6.0 oz serving of wild-caught salmon can provide as much as 1,774 mg of Omega-3 fatty acid and your children may be happy to hear that even a 3.2oz serving of frozen fish sticks can provide as much as 193 mg.
If you are looking to provide a snack that is a bit less fishy though, share a handful of walnuts with your child. That 28-gram serving offers a whopping 2,500 mg serving of omega-3!
Positive Effects Of Using Omega-3 Fish Oil
Let's take a look at the benefits of Omega-3 fish oil and how it might help with autistic children and their development. While you can consume higher quantities of these fatty fish oils naturally through diet ... most children will not be in favor of a meal like the one pictured above! As a result, taking supplements is often the more practical solution.
This is clearly a sensitive subject and unfortunately, a lot of information available can be confusing. The best source of information is your doctor or nutritionist. The one thing that is clear though is that omega-3 supplements have a wide range of benefits that can help the body overall. This should include autistic children just as it helps the rest of us improve the functioning of our own bodies.
Improve Brain Function
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can significantly improve brain function and development. While this has been studied mostly in the context of improving brain function in elderly patients, there's additional evidence to suggest that it helps with younger people as well.
Fatty acids are crucial for neo-natal development and with the development of brain and neurological systems as they grow. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help with their young brains throughout adolescence and into adulthood. In fact, throughout your life, this is a benefit that we can all appreciate.
Improves Sleep Quality
Irregular sleep order is a common problem for autistic children. Due to their feelings, irregular behavior, depression, and anxiety, they often admit problems with their sleep order. Regular dosages of fish oil will help improve a child's sleep quality.
Additionally, omega-3 spectrum supplements help to fall asleep faster and improve skin health and daytime performance.
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in a way similar to what happens when a person takes an aspirin in that it blocks certain signaling pathways that would otherwise result in the body producing an autoimmune response that results in pain and inflammation. There's evidence to suggest that some symptoms of ASD may be made worse by these autoimmune responses and so fish oil can be a way to help reduce this.
Even if it doesn't directly address the causes of autism in children, by reducing inflammation and the associated pain it causes, your child will be more attentive and less distracted as well as generally healthier and more able.
Improves Metabolism And Weight Management
Autistic children, and especially adolescents, are prone to obesity. This is often a symptom of two factors - lethargy and lower metabolism. Both of these can be symptoms of autism.
Many people simply look at obesity as a matter of eating less and exercising more. Omega-3 fish oil supplements can benefit people in the general population, where studies have shown as much as a 14% increase in metabolic rate following an omega-3 regimen.
When you combine the two benefits of reducing lethargy and increasing metabolism in autistic children, then this should be a major benefit of taking these supplements.
A Healthier Body Will Always Be Better Able To Cope
No matter what obstacles and challenges we face in life, a healthy body will always be able to overcome obstacles better and live a happier, more productive life. While I know that many friends are terrified of an autism diagnosis being made, there's a reason why it's referred to as a spectrum.
Not everyone has a severe diagnosis and some elements can be advantages if they are mild enough and diagnosed early enough to receive treatment and training on coping mechanisms.
Omega-3 may be able to provide some benefits for addressing autism symptoms, or it might not. However, considering we know it offers significant health benefits among the general population, it is something that you should try. If it helps make symptoms better then you should continue using it.