I’ve written before about Gammon being a high-energy kid. Ever since he could crawl he’s been off-the-scale liveliness-wise. He can’t sit still, he’s always fidgeting and often purposely knocks things off the table or kicks them as he goes past if on the floor – like he just can’t help himself.
Although undeniably irritating a lot of the time, I’ve tried to look at his excessive energy as a sort of hidden superhero talent – while other kids have handwriting that would put a Japanese calligrapher to shame, or are apparently already reading Booker Prize winning novels, my five year old could probably literally run a half marathon without stopping… and afterwards still want to practice his breakdancing moves… at 8pm at night.
We’re currently investigating whether he might have ADHD or some other sort of special need because his behaviour isn’t… hmmm, how do I put this?… very conducive to school. I know he’s a boy… and I know he’s summer born… but he’s struggling. The school have been great about it, but up until now no one’s been very keen on taking things further because, understandably, it’s pretty difficult to distinguish between the behaviour of a normal chaotic anti-social anarchistic kamikaze five year old, and one with ADHD.
One day when I was asking the universe for help, a school mum friend suggested I try giving him Omega 3 fish oils, which apparently can help with concentration and attention levels. My brilliant Nutritional Therapist friend, Karen Newby, agreed saying there have been lots of studies done which showed significant improvements in behaviour, reading and spelling by school children given Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids for three months, as well as kids diagnosed with ADHD. She recommended we try for 600mg a day of DHA (you’ll need to read the back of the label).
I set to work. I purchased some supplements, was given others by lovely providers I met and have been experimenting with them on Gammon and Chips.
The problem with this area is that it’s confusing – not all Omega 3 supplements are the same. They all offer different concentration levels of DHA, and as you can imagine, getting challenging kids to down fish oil like it was a tequila shot at a stag weekend can be quite tricky. So I’ve tried to negotiate the minefield for anyone else in my position and here are my thoughts on the different brands.
Form: Liquid (thick)
Concentration: 10ml = 375mg DHA
How much for 600mg DHA?: 16ml (3 teaspoons)
Cost: £22.84 for 300ml (£7.61 per 100ml)
Cost per day: £1.22
Taste (out of 10): 1 (truly hideous)
Overall (out of 10): 1
I purchased this after reading some reviews because it had a high concentration in one dose and supposedly it tasted of berries with a base of ‘orange, mango, banana, vanilla and pineapple’. I think a person with the world’s worst headcold has labeled their bottle – what on earth were they thinking?!! It bloody well tastes of fish! It’s like a meal of fish fricassee, lightly poached in a fish broth, tantalisingly served with a fish jus and delicately decorated with fish foam. After both Gammon and Chips flatly refusing to swallow it off the spoon, I tried to stealthily hide it in some yoghurt but because it’s so thick and gluggy they smelt a rat (or a fish, more like it). They both told me to “fricassee off” in no uncertain terms.
Brand: Bare Biology
Name: Super Hero
Form: Liquid (oily/watery)
Concentration: 1ml = 475mg DHA
How much for 600mg DHA?: 1.25ml (1/4 teaspoon)
Cost: £29.50 for 100ml
Cost per day: £0.37
Taste (out of 10): 8
Overall (out of 10): 9
Designed especially for kids, Super Hero is over 10 times more concentrated than even the ‘highly concentrated’ BioCare OmegaBerry, is the only UK brand independently certified by the IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) for purity, and because it’s a watery lemon tasting liquid, you can hide it in pretty much anything. It’s the most expensive upfront, but because of its super concentration, it’s actually the cheapest of all of them – who’d have thought?! I put it in both Gammon and Chips’ strawberry yoghurt and they were none-the-wiser. The only downside of this brand is that it’s quite tricky to pour out the required amount (it dribbles a bit), and although it smells and tastes lemony on its own or when mixed with something, it is literally a fish oil, so if you get it on your fingers it can emit a bit of a bad smell which may…um… follow you round like a bad smell. Bare Biology have told me they’re currently working on improving their pouring system, but for now when I pour I just stick my tongue out in concentration like a kid playing Operation and it’s all good!
Brand: L’il Critters
Name: OmegaBe-3 DHA
Form: Gummy fish
Concentration: 2 gummy fish = 32mg DHA
How much for 600mg DHA?: 37.5 gummy fish
Cost: £19.67 for 180 gummy fish
Cost per day: £4.10
Taste (out of 10): 9
Overall (out of 10): 3
These are delicious… not even a trace of fish taste. Well, they should taste bloody lovely – they’re totally encapsulated in sugar. Gammon and Chips call them “healthy sweeties”. Hmmm, not sure about that definition. I’d need to give Gammon almost 38 of them per day to get to the recommended 600mg of DHA. Considering I’m hoping the Omega 3 will help to reduce his hyperactivity, I’m not sure an extra 28 teaspoons of sugar are going to help our cause. Yeah, good luck with that one! They’re also the most expensive per day in terms of DHA levels.
Name: Kids’ Omega 3
Form: Chewable capsules
Concentration: 1 capsule = 110mg EPA/DHA (so let’s halve and say 55mg)
How much for 600mg DHA?: 11 capsules
Cost: £2.70 for 60 capsules
Cost per day: £0.50
Taste (out of 10): 7
Overall (out of 10): 5
Chips will chew these to pop the lemon-flavoured oil within and will happily ingest, although she doesn’t like the capsule casing and will throw that in the bin. Gammon doesn’t like chewing them but will happily swallow these whole with a glass of water. But even he would probably balk at having to down 11 of them. Cheap, but probably not so cheerful.
Brand: Efamol Brain
Name: Berry Burst Chewies
Form: Chewable capsules
Concentration: 1 capsule = 200mg DHA
How much for 600mg DHA?: 3 capsules
Cost: £8.99 for 30 capsules
Cost per day: £0.90
Taste (out of 10): 8
Overall (out of 10): 8
Both Gammon and Chips were happy to chew these and swallow the capsule case. They liked the berry flavor and would’ve been happy to have three a day if necessary. However, they’re about 2.5 times the cost of Bare Biology’s Super Hero though for the same level of DHA, and you have to make more of an event out of taking them (rather than just slip it into some yoghurt or lemon squash) so it might be an unnecessary palava for some families.
Brand: HalibOrange/Seven Seas
Name: Kids Omega-3
Form: Chewable capsules (orange)
Concentration: 1 capsule = 84mg DHA
How much for 600mg DHA?: 7 capsules
Cost: £4.99 for 45 capsules
Cost per day: £0.78
Taste (out of 10): 6
Overall (out of 10): 7
Both Gammon and Chips will take these – Chips is happy to chew and burst them, while Gammon doesn’t like the taste (I tried one – they are pretty rank!) but is happy to swallow them whole with water. These also include vitamins A, C, D and E so you can probably skip on an extra multivitamin if that’s the way you roll.
So without further ado: the winner is… drumroll please…
Bare Biology’s Super Hero!!! A brilliant all-rounder.
We don’t know yet whether taking DHA for three months will improve Gammon’s concentration levels, but we’re definitely willing to give it a go and I’ll report back any changes I notice – watch this space!
Disclaimer: I paid to attend a FAB seminar on Feeding Better Behaviour, Learning and Mood where I was given a free sample of the Efamol ‘Berry Burst Chewies’. At the seminar I met Bare Biology’s founder, who gave me a bottle of ‘Super Hero’ to try. All the other products I purchased myself. This is an honest review and the Efamol and Bare Biology products scored well because of their high concentration mixed with their great taste for kids and price.