As the time for back to school quickly approaches the question of how to optimize our children’s brain health is something that parents and caregivers are revisiting. One school of thought is that children who have been diagnosed with disorders that affect their focus, concentration, and attention can benefit from supplementation of Omega 3 fatty acids in their diet. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are the most common psychiatric conditions diagnosed in children, of which 40% will have lingering symptoms that will persist into adulthood.
ADHD and ADD are neurodevelopmental disorders that can have a negative impact on the behavior, mental health, education, and social lives of children. Left untreated, ADD/ADHD have been shown in clinical trial data to have an impact on overall mood and self-esteem, leading to other psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Traditional treatment of these disorders often include use of stimulant medication, which can be scary for a caregiver to consider for their child given the side effects profile of these drugs. Although research suggests that treatment of ADD/ADHD is most effectively controlled with medications, the use of supplements such as Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to augment the effects of traditional medication. Parents seeking complementary treatments for their children to use alongside traditional medication may find that the incorporation of Omega 3s into the diet have the possibility to lead to a reduced dose of the medication.
Fatty acids play an important role in functions of the brain, including interaction with neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. 60% of the brain itself is comprised of fat: therefore, consumption of healthy fats is essential for optimal brain functions. Higher levels of fatty acids improve communication between neurons, while lower levels of them interferes with brain synapse functions. Put simply, the more Omega 3 that is consumed, the more optimal the communication between brain cells. A diet high in these essential fatty acids can be an important step in improving brain health.
Evidence suggests that eating fatty fish at least twice a week is beneficial for brain function. One of the best sources of Omega 3 fatty acid is salmon, which contains 1,900 mg of essential fatty acids per 3 oz portion. Recommendations for supplementation with Omega 3s as augmentation for ADD/ADHD treatment is 700-1000 mg daily for children under 12 and 1,5500-2, 000 mg daily for children 12 and older. Simply adding fish such as salmon to the diet is an excellent way to supplement traditional approaches to treatment of ADD/ADHD as well as introducing your family to a delicious new dish.
Please enjoy this recipe for salmon and cucumber wraps with lemon-dill aioli. My kids love it, and I hope yours will too.
“ChefNurse” Ellen Minier, MSN, PMHNP-BC
Salmon & Cucumber Wraps w/ Lemon-Dill Aioli
4 each 3oz portions of salmon
Salt and pepper to taste
4 each whole wheat wraps
4 cups spring mix
1 thin-skinned Persian cucumber (very thinly sliced)
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
Juice and zest of one lemon
One small bunch fresh dill (finely chopped)
Step one: cook the salmon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place salmon portions onto parchment paper and season with salt and pepper. Add a small drizzle of olive oil and seal inside of parchment paper. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes until cooked through. A good rule of thumb when cooking salmon is 10 minutes of cooking time per inch of thickness for the fish. Let salmon cool completely.
Step two: make the sauce
Add mayonnaise, chopped dill, juice and zest of a lemon, and a good pinch of salt and pepper to a small bowl and mix well. Set aside
Step three: assemble the wraps
Lay whole wheat wrap flat on work surface. Spread with about a tablespoon of the sauce. Top with about a cup of the spring mix and the cucumbers. Flake the salmon into chunks and distribute on top of the vegetables. Tightly roll the ingredients inside of the wrap, tucking in the edges as you roll.