When it comes to proper nutrition, there’s a lot of talk lately about omega-3 fats: “smart fats” that are found in especially high amounts in seafood, as well as some plants (like flax seed oil, canola oil, nuts, and seeds). Growing brains, especially those of infants and small children, need omega-3 fats in order to function properly.
Human breast milk is a high-level source of omega-3 fats may explain why breast-fed babies have a higher IQ than those who are not. In the words of Dr. Sears:
Oceans of recent research show that omega-3 fats make brains healthier, especially the brains of young kids and older adults. Researchers believe that the high levels of omega-3 fats in breast milk help to explain the differences in IQ between children who received human milk in infancy and those who did not. The body uses omega-3 fats to make cell membranes. Omega-3 fats are also needed to make myelin, the insulation around nerves, and to help neurotransmitters function at the optimal levels. Omega-3 fats are known as essential fatty acids from food. Other types of fats can be manufactured in the body, but the body cannot make essential fatty acids. That is why it is important for growing brains to get adequate amounts of these smart fats from food. If there are not enough “smart” fats available to make brain cells and other key substances, the body uses lesser-quality fats and produce s lesser-quality cells. The “dumb” fats (known as replacement fatty acids), the kind that come from the trans fats in hydrogenated oils, clog the receptors in the cell membrane, and the brain cell does not function well.
Neurotransmitters, the biochemical messengers that carry information from one brain cell to another, fit into receptors on cell membranes like a key fits into a lock. The keys and the locks must match. If the cell membrane is composed of the right fats, the locks and keys match. But if the receptors are clogged with the wrong fats, the neurotransmitter keys won’t fit, and the brain-cell function suffers. Omega-3 fats keep the receptors open so the neurotransmitters fit and the brain can function optimally.
For more info on omega-3’s and children’s health, visit these links:
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