Fish Oil Effects on Children

Fish oil is a commonly recommended dietary supplements for adults. Research has shown that fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent heart disease, all forms of cancer and complications during pregnancy. Omega-3 fatty acids occur naturally in foods such as tuna, shrimp, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, green beans and Brussels sprouts. If insufficient omega-3 fatty acids are acquired naturally through diet, a fish oil supplement may be recommended. In recent years, research has uncovered that omega-3 fatty acids not only benefit adults but also have very beneficial effects in children.


Fish oil is believed to have positive effects even in babies. Many manufacturers of baby formula are now adding fish oil to their recipes. Research has proven that babies who were fed fish oil performed better on tests that evaluate mental development and vision. Research has also shown that babies who were given fish oil developed increased intelligence as adults.


Fish oil has proven benefits on children who have attention-deficit disorder(ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children with ADD may exhibit some physical disorders such as dry skin, dry hair and excessive thirst caused by decreased omega-3 levels. Increasing omega-3 levels should help these symptoms resolve. Children with ADD who are administered fish oil have also shown great improvements and less severe ADD behavior, such as inattention, from increased omega-3 levels. This is encouraging to parents who have been instructed to administer drugs such as Ritalin to improve their children’s behavior.

Children with reading difficulties such as dyslexia have also shown marked improvement after fish oil was introduced. This effect is most likely caused by the child’s increased ability to focus and concentrate because of increase omega-3 levels.

Adverse Effects

Fish oil is generally considered to be a safe dietary supplement for children. There are a few minor side effects that may arise after introducing fish oil into a child’s diet. Children may experience a fishy aftertaste and stomach upset after taking high doses of fish oil. Other possible side effects include nausea, diarrhea, belching (burping) or a rash.

About this Author

Robert Shifko has more than 17 years’ experience in the health care industry. Throughout his career, he has gained experience in pharmacologic research, clinical nuclear medicine, and most recently radiation health physics. He has obtained several certifications in nuclear medicine, epidemiology, biostatistics and as a medical radiation safety officer. He has always supported LIVESTRONG.