How Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Benefit Your Child's Health

Maintaining a balanced diet is an important part of pre- and postnatal development and growth. Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids are two of the many quintessential parts of the diet For Both Mother and Baby. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an Omega-3 Fatty Acid, and Arachidonic Acid (AA), an Omega-6 Fatty Acid, are both found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. These essential Fatty Acids play a Significant Role in Brain Growth and Cognition.

DHA and AA Benefits

Research by the Early Nutrition Academy (2008-2013) states, “Indications of benefits of supplying DHA with AA to preterm infants with respect to cognitive and visual development and in infants with birth weight,<1,250 g with respect to the prevention of neurodevelopmental handicaps and chronic lung disease, with apparent greater benefits provided by a higher compared to a lower DHA supply (1 vs. 0.35% of the total fatty acid intake)”. This tells us an appropriate DHA supply is positively correlated with neurodevelopment and visual development in preterm infants.

This study also showed the positive effects of omega-3 fatty acid (n-3 LC-PUFA) supplementation during pregnancy to include birth-size and larger birth weights in infants of supplemented mothers.

Additionally, there are beneficial effects of Pre- and Postnatal DHA supply on allergy risk. According to a systematic review by the Early Nutrition Academy (2008-2013), which evaluated the effect of perinatal n–3 fatty acid supplementation on inflammatory markers and allergic diseases, “N–3 PUFA supplementation during pregnancy reduced the 12-month prevalence of positive egg skin prick tests and childhood asthma”.

Not only does extra virgin olive oil help with children’s brain development, but it can also help with birth weight and allergies. A strong, healthy foundation is needed to help children thrive both physically and mentally, and it can aid in building that foundation.

Breast-Feeding or Formulas?

During the first few months of life, “Breastmilk is usually the only external source of AA and DHA for infants”. It is still encouraged that parents or caregivers find substitutes for breast milk with similar nutrients to mirror the DHA and AA from breast milk itself. In particular, “The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) have proposed DHA supplementation as mandatory for infant formulas, while no minimum amount of AA was determined to be necessary, setting AA supplementation as an optional ingredient”. Nevertheless, observations have shown that infants that receive both AA and DHA perform better cognitively than just receiving DHA. In addition, there is a high content of LCPUFA Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (LCPUFA) in breast milk, which scientists recommend.

We’ve Got Your Back

If you are unsure what your next step is, start with us. Olivaio is an extra virgin Olive Oil subscription box that will be shipped monthly to the comfort of your home, directly from Italy. Check out the website for information, recipes like Brushetta, and much more!

Written by Mridini Chandrasekaran
Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.