Kids’ Health Round-Up

Our kids are back into the swing of school, and keeping them healthy is a top priority. Check out these findings on kids’ health when it comes to the brain, behavior, weight and immunity.

Brain

EPA improved cognition in ADHD

A new study finds the omega-3 EPA may be as, or more, beneficial than drugs for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in kids with low EPA levels.

In this study, 92 participants, aged six to 18, with a diagnosis of ADHD, took a placebo or 1,200 mg of EPA per day. After 12 weeks, those in the EPA group who began with the lowest blood levels of EPA saw significant improvements in the ability to focus attention and remain vigilant. The benefits were not apparent in those with normal or high baseline EPA levels.

Discussing the findings, doctors said, “Fish oil supplements are at least as effective for attention as conventional pharmacological treatments in children with ADHD and omega-3 deficiency,” going on to encourage parents to check omega-3 levels, as excess amounts could affect impulsive behavior. Doctors have begun to rely on the Omega-3 Index to measure omega-3 levels, with a healthy range from 4 to 8 percent in circulation.

Reference: Translational Psychiatry 9; November, 2019, Article No. 303

Behavior

Mothers’ lutein improved behavior in offspring

Recent research reveals most of the carotenoids in young brain tissue is lutein, and while lutein promotes cognitive function in adults, little is known about prenatal lutein, when the brain develops most rapidly. In this study, doctors measured lutein in the diets of 1,126 mothers during the first and second trimesters, then followed up when their children reached eight years of age.

Using a food frequency questionnaire, doctors determined mothers got an average of 1.8 mg of lutein per day during the first and second trimesters. Compared to those who got less lutein, mothers who got more lutein while pregnant reported fewer behavioral problems in their children at age eight. The improvements in behavior increased as the amount of lutein in the diet increased, and accelerated as mothers continued lutein into the second trimester.

Reference: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2019, Vol. 119, No. 10, A131

Low vitamin D linked to behavioral problems

Low vitamin D levels in adults have mood and behavioral links, but these effects were unknown in children. In this study, doctors measured levels of vitamin D in 273 children, aged five to 12, and followed up six years later to assess behavior via kids’ and parents’ questionnaires.

Those who had been deficient in vitamin D in elementary school were twice as likely as kids with sufficient levels to have behavioral problems, including aggression and rule-breaking, by the time they reached adolescence.

Reference: Journal of Nutrition; 2019, NXZ185, Published Online

Weight

Vitamin D improved metabolics in overweight, obese kids

Children who are obese are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D, raising chances for heart and circulatory conditions. In this study, 225 healthy, overweight or obese participants, aged 10 to 18, 211 of which were African-American, took either 600 IU, 1,000 IU, or 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day.

After six months, while there were no changes in the 600 IU group, those taking higher doses saw central systolic, central diastolic, and systemic diastolic blood pressure (BP) decrease by 2.66, 3.57, and 3.28 mmHg, respectively. Systemic systolic BP did not change in any of the groups.

In the 2,000 IU vitamin D group, beginning at three months, insulin sensitivity increased, and at six months, fasting glucose levels declined. Correcting vitamin D deficiency may improve heart and circulatory health.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2020, pii: nqz340, Published Online

Vitamin D, fat mass, and insulin resistance

In this study, doctors measured vitamin D in 533 young children and adolescents and found 90 percent were low or deficient, with levels no higher than 30 nanograms per milliliter, or 75 nanomoles per liter, of blood. As levels of vitamin D increased, fat mass and insulin resistance decreased.

Reference: Nutrients; 2019, Vol. 11, No. 9

Probiotics promote healthy weight

This is the first study to assess probiotics in obese children. In the trial, 54 obese kids, aged six to 14, ate a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity for 12 weeks. Some diets included a multi-strain probiotic, others a placebo.

Compared to placebo, the kids taking probiotics saw greater improvement in body mass index (BMI) scores, and reductions in several signs of chronic inflammation linked to obesity. Doctors said, “It is very promising that in only 12 weeks of supplementation, probiotics reduced BMI and improved other metabolic markers of obesity, including lower fasting blood sugar.”

Reference: 58th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting, Vienna; September, 2019

Immunity

Probiotics reduced kids’ colds

In this study, 106 healthy children, aged one to six years, attending daycare during cold season, took a placebo or a multi-strain lactobacillus probiotic of one-billion colony forming units, per day.

During the 30 day study period, children who caught a common cold and took probiotics had less nasal congestion and runny nose than kids in the placebo group. Overall, on a standard cold-symptom questionnaire, symptoms were less severe for kids in the probiotics group, with a symptom-severity score 46 percent lower than for placebo. Also, kids taking probiotics needed to take less cold medication, missed fewer days at daycare, and cried less.

Reference: European Journal of Nutrition; 2019, S00394, Published Online

BetsyHealth Note: This article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before taking a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, or take prescription or over-the-counter medication.

Article copyright 2020 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.