Kids Health

Fish has great health benefits for kids’ eyes and brain

Children aged 2-3 years should consume 40-50 gm of fish on a regular basis. Fish consumption or fish oil consumption is also linked to reduction of type 1 diabetes in children.

By Dr Seema Khanna

Fish is considered to be an important part of a heart healthy diet. It is filled with nutrients the body needs for growth and maintenance. Fish contains proteins without high saturated fat content. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids and D vitamins. Babies and young children require omega 3 fatty acids and DHA (docasahexemonic acid), which is important for the development of children’s eyes and brain.

Fish is good for a healthy brain

Omega 3 fatty acids are absolutely essential for growth and development. Fish also increases grey matter in the brain and reduces age related deterioration. Grey matter is the major functional tissue in your brain containing the neurons that process information and store memories. Studies have shown that people who eat fish every week have more grey matter in the centre of their brain that regulates the emotion and memory. Studies also found that people eating fish are less likely to get depressed. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish are beneficial against depression. The fatty acids aid in protecting the heart by lowering the risk of high blood pressure.

What fish varieties can kids eat?

There are few varieties of fish that have contain high levels of mercury, such as shark, sword fish, king mackerel and tile fish. These should be avoided in children below 2-3 years of age, as regular consumption of these may cause certain neurological problems. Fish should be introduced after the age of one year. Fish is an important part of your diet; it is super-packed with nutrients which are essentially required for healthy growth and development of body. Children aged 2-3 years should consume 40-50 gm of fish on a regular basis. Adults should eat at least 80 gm (maximum 100 gm) of fish.

Fish oil reduces Type 1 diabetes in kids

Fish and its products are the best dietary source of vitamin D. People, those who cannot eat fish, can take cod liver oil capsules or 1 tablespoon cod liver oil every day. Fish or fish oil consumption is linked to reduction of type 1 diabetes in children as well as autoimmune diabetes in adults. Fish salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and rainbow trout, all contain omega 3 fats which help fortify skin cell membrane and may also reduce the risk of certain forms of skin cancer.

Watch out for fish allergy

Fish allergy could cause skin rash, nausea, stomach cramps, headaches, breathing difficulty and a drop in blood pressure, causing loss of consciousness. Allergy reactions from fish can differ. Sometimes, the same person can react differently at different times. A child who has fish allergy must completely avoid eating fish.

It is important to eat fish as regularly as any other food. Apart from its immense benefits, fish is a great non-vegetarian source and a delicious food. Stay healthy and hearty!

(The writer is a consultant nutritionist.)

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