Fish oil is a popular supplement that contains high levels of two omega-3 fatty acids: DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, and EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid. Though treatment with fish oil is usually associated with heart disease prevention in adults, children may also benefit from taking fish oil. In fact, fish oil may help reduce symptoms of asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and movement or coordination disorders. However, additional research is needed to examine these purported health benefits in children. The amount of fish oil your child can take is usually dependent on your child's weight rather than age. Also, you should only give your child fish oil supplements if instructed to do so by a pediatrician.
For Children with Asthma
Children who suffer from asthma, a chronic respiratory disease, may experience less frequent breathing problems following daily treatment with fish oil supplements. Health professionals with MedlinePlus report that children with asthma can take 17 to 26.8 mg of EPA and 7.3 to 11.5 mg DHA per kilogram body weight. For more personalized fish oil dosage recommendations for your asthmatic child, seek guidance from your doctor.
For Children with ADHD
Treatment with fish oil supplements may also help reduce ADHD symptoms in children, including sleeping difficulties, temper tantrums and other learning and behavioral problems. If your child struggles with ADHD, your pediatrician may recommend daily treatment with a supplement that contains 400 mg fish oil and 100 mg evening primrose oil per capsule. Normally, children with ADHD may take up to six capsules daily.
For Children with Movement or Developmental Coordination Disorders
Children with poor coordination or motor skill problems may experience an improvement in disruptive symptoms following treatment with fish oil. Each day, children with poor coordination may take a fish oil supplement that contains 480 mg DHA in combination with 80 mg vitamin E, 24 mg thyme oil, 96 mg gamma-alpha linoleic acid and 35 mg arachidonic acid. Alternatively, children with developmental coordination disorder may benefits from taking fish oil containing 558 mg EPA and 174 mg DHA in three divided doses each day.
Your child may experience upset stomach side effects while taking fish oil supplements. Tummy trouble may lead to a reduced appetite or frequent trips to the bathroom. You may also notice that your child's breath smells fishy or your child may complain of an unpleasant fish-like taste in her mouth. Discuss severe or persistent fish oil supplement side effects with your child's pediatrician.