5

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Am I Letting my Toddler Overdose on Fish Oil?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 01, 2012 at 12:32 PM

My son just turned 2 and has been paleo almost a year. We eat mostly grass-fed meat, local pastured pork and poultry, and vegetables. I bought some fish oil and pop a few pills whenever I eat pork or poultry, to balance out the omega-6s. My son saw me taking them and asked if he could have one. I figured, "what the heck? Why not? He'll take a bite, make a funny face, and that will be the end of it."

Except that he loved it. Now he asks for fish oil all the time. He just chews them up like they were gummies, except they're adult fish oil gel caps. I try to save it as a special treat, "if you let me cut your fingernails, you can have a fish oil," But I worry that he's ending up with too much. We buy the best kind we can afford, which lately isn't great. NatureMade brand, with 750 mg EPA/DHA per serving (3 pills). The other ingredients besides fish are "gelatin, glycerin, water, tocopherol."

So my questions are... is it okay to let him have some? If so, how many per day?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:43 PM

Interesting that our first food has a omega-ratio of 7:1... PUFAs are 10% of total fat, 6.5% of calories. Very similar to "PUFA-ridden" chicken and pork...

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:23 PM

I think there is a diff when it comes from fresh fish than from pills.

Medium avatar

(12379)

on February 01, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Exactly! And great tip about the lower dosage pills!

Medium avatar

(12379)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:28 PM

Lizzish I feel your pain - fingernails and toenails are impossible to cut on squirmy toddlers - especially ones that are non-compliant. Do what you need to do to get it done. Better to have short fingernails - and geez at least it's not doughnuts or lollipops!

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:22 PM

The point is that it may *not* be harmless. And what if he gets into some cod liver oil caps thinking they are fish oil? Hopefully he would spit them out, but I certainly wouldn't want any child of mine thinking that supplements are "candy". Not safe.

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:07 PM

Right on, AshleyRoz! Parenting is hard enough, why take away a safe, harmless bribe when most kids are getting bribed with candy and toys?

A1a0baccef58499acf9ceb3c874997f2

(675)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:05 PM

I know you're short on funding, but it might be worth it to get him the child's dosage, just to be on the safe side. They're still chewable and taste pretty gross... but with a hint of strawberry. :)

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:03 PM

Interesting Ashley! Maybe he just needs more *fat*, though.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:02 PM

We paleo mommas have to freaking say "no" to EVERTHING... Every party, every play date, every road trip. Asking about whether chewin on a gram of fish oil a day is an ok occasional bribe seems pretty harmless to me. Geez people. Judge much??!!!

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 01, 2012
at 02:48 PM

Agree with Dave. Omega 3s are still PUFAs, which we want to limit, overall. Best to focus on reducing Omega 6s.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on February 01, 2012
at 02:30 PM

You are the parent. You are in charge. If he is not eating crap with veg oil in it, there is no need for fish oil (pills or otherwise). You should be able to cut his fingernails without bribery. Be the parent.

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11 Answers

6
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on February 01, 2012
at 06:28 PM

Mamas from a parallel dimension. My kiddo prefers fish oil to candy on occasion as a motivator too, usually to be lured out of hiding places for nail clipping or hair brushing, both of which he thinks are child abuse.

And to all of those people who are saying, "Be a parent, and just do what needs to be done," we are doing what needs to be done, and in a way that reduces conflict, I dare you to come and cut my kid's toenails when he doesn't want to have it done (which is always). We're dealing with 2-year-olds here, cut us some slack.

As long as the bottle is child proof and out of reach I think your strategy is awesome here, just think of the mind patterning you're doing for his future, he'll be conditioned to celebrate life's little victories with a big piece of salmon instead of a candy bar.

I think your worries about the dosage are founded though, you don't want a grumpy amped-up kiddo tearing around your house with serotonin syndrome. Our solution has been to start buying the non-concentrated fish oil (we get the Carlson stuff that takes 5 capsules for an adult dose). One of these capsules is a slightly lower (320mg omega 3--160mg EPA:100mg DHA:60mg other omeaga 3's) than the dosage in the more expensive kid versions (which I remember having about 400mg Omega 3 total, don't remember the breakdown). A couple of those per week doesn't seem like a big deal.

Medium avatar

(12379)

on February 01, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Exactly! And great tip about the lower dosage pills!

6
1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

on February 01, 2012
at 03:26 PM

Breastmilk from a well nourished mother is actually fairly rich in polyunsaturated fats... Even in people who aren't eating SAD. If he is weaned already he might be craving it for a reason.

If you scroll down on my link to the macro/micro nutrient chart for breastmilk you'll notice that the average full day of breastmilk or raw milk formula includes about 5 grams of PUFA's a day and it's Actually mostly omega 6. So if you arent using much cooking fat or using mostly beef fat for your toddlers food, he might be needing more PUFA's as counterintuitive as that will sound to this crowd. Maybe let him have some canned sardines instead if you're really worried about it. He hasn't spent his entire life eating soybean oil so you're not having to fix any ratio damages. My son takes Cod liver oil (twinlab) and so he gets about a teaspoon of fish oil a day but he's also breastfeeding for about 80-90% of his calories

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:43 PM

Interesting that our first food has a omega-ratio of 7:1... PUFAs are 10% of total fat, 6.5% of calories. Very similar to "PUFA-ridden" chicken and pork...

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:03 PM

Interesting Ashley! Maybe he just needs more *fat*, though.

4
4b8222c565d3edd9b3f5b62252dce63d

on February 01, 2012
at 01:58 PM

I follow the dosage instructions on the Nordic Naturals kids fish oil bottle. I have heard conflicting reports about too much EPA causing problems during brain development. This is something I would get to the bottom of before letting him eat them. Mine love it too because they see me take it.

3
8292546789ca48c32ead34c6e884d059

on February 01, 2012
at 03:10 PM

A child after my own heart... I don't know why but I find them yummy too.

3
32123f4f25bdf6a7b70c9c2a719386ed

(396)

on February 01, 2012
at 02:01 PM

I would think it is ok, after all inuit kids get a lot of fish oil in their diet naturally. However I think a better choice would be high vitamin cod live oil which he probably wouldn't like. Kids that age if not exposed to junk will naturally eat what they need. Their was an experiment done maybe 50 years ago that tested what toddlers would eat if they had free choice. A smorgasboard of food was laid out for them and they were alowed free range to eat whatever they wanted. They seemed to instinctively know what their bodies needed at that particular time and ate a balanced diet overall. I think the influence of unnatural foods skews that instinct though.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:23 PM

I think there is a diff when it comes from fresh fish than from pills.

2
Medium avatar

on February 01, 2012
at 08:00 PM

There's no point in anyone taking fish oil. You should be balancing out PUFAs in general with stable fats, not with other types of PUFAs.

2
D5a4ff096a452a84a772efa0e6bc626e

(2486)

on February 01, 2012
at 04:12 PM

Too funny! You're not the first parent with this phenomenon to ask on paleohacks, even this year: parent of a five year old. If it's only a cap here and there, don't worry about it, but do keep the pills where little hands can't get to them-

2
76d70438d2442d21206b8e5528d23d23

on February 01, 2012
at 02:07 PM

A child needs fats and oils at this age, for brain and neurological development. If kiddo has been weaned & isn't eating dairy, these supplements might be an extremely good idea.

It looks like this children's DHA supplement is recommending 240-370 mg per day for your child's age group. So I would say one of your adult tablets daily. (I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice! ;) )

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 01, 2012
at 08:34 PM

I'd just keep it in moderation. ANother question to ask is if the child might be craving more fat in general. Maybe you should consider the child's access to fat from all sources, fatty chicken skins, fatty fish and fish skins, fat on steak, etc. Does the child eat until satiated on those or is he left wanting. Is the child eating all he she would prefer to eat of fat sources in general? Would the child enjoy more fresh fish? Just because the child likes the pills does not mean the pills are the absolute best healthiest source of that which he craves. Personally, I do not trust pills full of old preserved oils as being super healthy. But I would guess they are not harmful if taken in moderation and for many people eating a low fat diet in hopes of being 'healthy' those pills may even be a life saver. HOwever, for paleo eaters, I'd say the best is to eat fresh fish, not pills. Or in this case, don't eat to many of them. Remember that those pills are blood thinners! Some people have had to cut back on fish oil pills because of too thin blood and excessive bleeding problems. It's a mistake to assume that one ingredient (fish oil) taken out and preserved in an unnatural form would be superior or even equivalent to the same ingredient in its natural context (ie fresh fish). Yes, the innuit ate a lot of fish oil. They also ate (in the past) a lot of fresh foods and very little garbage food. And they ate a lot of fish oil because they had no choice. It's hard to say if all that fish oil was truly the very best diet ever for them. COuld be they just adapted to it over time and also lived healther than us in many other ways. Personally, I don't take fish oil pills as I don't see enough evidence that a person eating plenty of other healthy fats also needs pills of oil. But I suspect moderate dosages probably would not hurt. Moderation is a good way to go when you are not sure... -Eva

1
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on February 01, 2012
at 02:13 PM

I would track how much he is eating, as too many PUFAs of any sort can be problematic.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 01, 2012
at 09:19 PM

If you are eating plenty of grass fed meat then you have no need to supplement with oils. I have read several articles that said that taking omega 3 oil supplements is not such a good idea. They can be beneficial in the very short term but bad in the long term.

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