Someone asked us what brand of fish oil we use for J-Man. It’s Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA. This isn’t so much the result of extensive brand shopping, but rather it’s what Whole Foods had in stock that satisfied some basic requirements.
Upon the recommendation of one of his therapists, we decided to try fish oil based on research that it has helped some autistic and children with speech delays or apraxia. “Helped” was measured primarily by improved cognitive testing scores and speech usage over a 90-day period. Because of its widespread use (I take capsules myself) and researched benefits for a variety of things – not to mention there doesn’t seem to be any indication that it does any harm – we decided to give it a try.
There are a lot of questionable products and practices out there involving supplements and other related treatments for autism. Fish oil seems at worst benign. First do no harm should be the rule for everything we try for our kids.
I don’t recall exactly what we paid for it, but 4 fl oz bottle of this brand (it’s berry-flavored liquid) should run about $14-15; an 8 oz will run about $25 or so. By my rough figuring, this is about 50 and 100 doses respectively. A dose is 2.5ml or 1/2 tsp.
From their product page, one dose contains:
EPA: 205 mg
DHA: 313 mg
Other Omega-3s: 113 mg
500 ish milligrams for EPA + DHA appears to be a fairly accepted sweet spot for fish oil for autistic and speech delayed kids in the couple of studies I read. Keep up with the research as best you can to see how this evolves. Largely they are taking educated guesses at this point.
Here are the requirements we set when we looked for fish oil:
- It had to be as pure and free of toxins and crap that are in low-quality fish oil as much as humanly possible. (generally this is down to fractions of parts per zillion)
- It had to be in liquid form because of J-Man’s severe oral defensiveness and lack of interest in eating anything weird or having it mixed in his food.
- It had to hit that 500 mg ‘sweet spot’ (see above).
- A dose had to involve 1 tsp or less of liquid (i.e. 5ml or less) because giving him much more liquid than that in an oral syringe is extremely difficult. Hell would freeze over before he took liquid medicine from a spoon.
- We had to be able to get it fairly easily and not order it from Outer Mongolia.
- It had to not taste or smell like fish ass.
The Nordic Naturals stuff succeeded on all but the last count, though I don’t readily know what a fish’s ass tastes or smells like. I imagine liquid fish oil is a close approximation if nothing else. We realized pretty much no product is going to taste that great. I put a little on my tongue and found it tolerable. Mary found it disgusting, but she has Super Sensitive Nose so there was no hope there to begin with.
An important thing to note about this and other fish oil products is that many of them also contain Vitamin A. If your child is getting a significant amount of Vitamin A from other sources and supplements, be aware of this. Vitamin A in higher than recommend doses can be toxic. If you decide you need to give your kid a double dose to get to that 500mg point, make sure you aren’t doubling the Vitamin A into an unsafe range.
Like I said, fish oil in any non-capsule form – which is the fate of most of us with younger kids – can easily taste and smell like Charlie the Tuna’s feet, or worse. Even in its other ‘child-friendly’ forms (flavored chews, mix in their food type stuff, etc.), it’s pretty unpleasant. The feedback I’ve read is that fruit-flavored versions are generally the most palatable. One brand I saw somewhere has chocolate-flavored chews. Just thinking about this sends me running for the mental floss.
Here’s a link to the Nordic Naturals product page, if you’re curious. I get nothing out of this if you buy some, in case you’re wondering.
Standard disclaimer: Talk with your doctor, therapists, and other qualified professionals before giving your kid anything. I am not qualified to tell you anything other than what we are doing with our son. I’m not endorsing this brand nor are we advising you to give your kid fish oil nor are we claiming it will help your kid at all nor am I claiming that superstring theory is correct. With autism, there’s so much we don’t know. Treat all advice you get from people with that principle in mind. A recording this is. Yoda, yoda, yoda.