Why DHA matters

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is one of the most important omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids are the good kinds of fats that are linked to a lot of different health benefits. DHA in particular is crucial for building and maintaining healthy skin, vision, and brain function. Our bodies cannot produce enough DHA on their own, so we need to make sure we take in adequate amounts from our foods and supplements.[1]Children can be picky eaters and therefore can be at risk for not getting enough DHA, so below are some kid-friendly options, but a supplement would be a good idea.

Where do we find it?

DHA is found mainly in fish, seafood, and sea plants (like seaweed).  To make sure you’re getting enough DHA try to eat fish or seafood at least 3 times a week. Some great choices are shrimp, lobster, scallops, salmon, tuna, halibut, sea bass, sardines, mackerel, trout, grouper, cod, sole, snapper, or any other fish that you enjoy!

How can we get our family to eat it?

DHA family-friendly foods you can always have on hand:

  • Lox (smoked salmon): Lox is easy to keep in the fridge and is a great dose of DHA. You can serve it as is for family breakfast on the weekends with bagels or scramble it together with eggs to mask the flavor if your kids don’t love lox on its own.
  • Canned tuna: Tuna is another super easy fish to store because it comes in cans (or pouches) and it is incredibly versatile. This means you’re bound to find a way to sneak it into your kids meals somewhere to meet their DHA needs. Add it to salads and sandwiches, try the kid-classic tuna melt (grilled cheese with tuna), or make tuna croquets, which switch up the tuna taste without losing the nutritional benefits. 
  • Frozen shrimp:frozen shrimp are great to have on hand because they thaw and cook quickly and yet last a long time in the freezer. Grill them up with some sautéed veggies for dinner or add them to a pasta with some tomato sauce to get your picky eaters to eat them too.
  • Seaweed snacks: these snacks are perfect for parents and kids because they are crunchy, delicious, low salt, and a great source of DHA.
  • Fresh fish: pick one night of the week to make grill or bake a fresh fish for the family, like salmon or halibut, for your DHA fix. If your kids are on the pickier side then try Dr. Praegers fish sticks to make sure they get in their DHA. For those who don’t love to cook, no problem, just pick more fish entrees when you’re eating out at restaurants to up your DHA intake, no cooking required!

References:

National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Last updated 6/8/2018.  Accessed on 9/12/18. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/

Brigitte Zeitlin | MPH, RD, CDN

Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and owner of BZ Nutrition, a private nutrition counseling practice.  She has been featured in Us Weekly, Women’s Health, SELF, and Well+Good. Become a client and work with Brigitte by visiting bznutritionny.com.