The body cannot manufacture the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) efficiently, so it is necessary to obtain them from the diet. EPA and DHA are required for healthy brain function and are an integral part of cell membranes which control what goes in and out of cells. Fatty acids from fish are considered ‘good fats’ that supply a reliable source of EPA and DHA, which are both required for healthy brain function in children. There is a level of two-way conversion between EPA and DHA in your body, so where one is deficient, it can be made up from the other one.
EPA plays an important functional and regulatory role in brain health and is directly involved in the production of certain eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are molecules made from fatty acids and are an important part of the body’s immune response. Eicosanoids are only made ‘as needed’, impacting a wide range of physiological processes.
DHA is an important structural component of the brain. DHA is found in high concentrations in the brain and is taken up by the brain in preference to other fatty acids. DHA influences the function of brain cell membranes, which are important for the transmission of brain signals. By making cell membranes more fluid, omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, help to improve communication between brain cells.
Iodine is an essential trace element required for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland in both adults and children. The thyroid gland plays an important role in producing hormones that regulate many metabolic processes important to children, including growth and energy expenditure. Iodine is also important to support brain development in children and cognitive function.