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Health • Friday, May 3, 2024

Finding the Right Supplement for Growing Children and Adolescents – The ingredient that makes all the difference in the Omega-3 fish oil

By Zinzino

Fish is a natural source of the essential fatty acids that children and adolescents need for their cognitive development. Unfortunately, children do not eat enough fish to reach the recommended dose today and many parents rely on supplements that are not always effective. We are a global personalized supplements company, and in this article our research and development specialist, Dr. Emmalee Gisslevik, explains why we need fatty acids from fish and what to look for when choosing Omega-3 based supplements.

For thousands of years, fish has been an important part of the human diet, providing us with sufficient amounts of the fatty acids necessary for our bodies to function properly. Fish contains vitamin D, Omega-3 and Omega-6, which support our immune system, eye and brain function and the brain's ability to receive, store, process and retrieve information, which is particularly important during childhood and adolescence. Unfortunately, our Western diet is not as nutritious as it used to be, and fish is becoming a smaller and smaller part of the diet. The National Institute of Health states that up to 80 percent of children in Europe today and as many as 94 percent in the US are not getting the recommended amount of Omega-3. Instead of eating fish, many people choose to take supplements to meet their nutritional needs. One of the most common supplements is fish oil, which is rich in Omega-3 – but for our bodies to absorb the nutrients from the essential fatty acids in the oil, it needs to be both specially formulated and tailored to individual needs. For many years, it was a mystery why the oil did not have the same health benefits as fish, but researchers now know more about how to keep the oil fresh for longer and therefore active in the body after it has been processed from the fish. Emmalee Gisslevik explains:

"When fatty acids are inside the fish, they remain stable and active. But when they are extracted from the fish, they immediately start to oxidize and by the time they get inside our bodies, they have already become rancid to some extent, making it difficult for the body's cells to absorb the nutrients. We have found a unique method that stabilizes the fatty acids in fish oil in the same natural way as inside the fish, and this discovery has led to a breakthrough in the market for Omega-3 based supplements."

Polyphenols are Key

Just over a decade ago, in 2012, the team of scientists associated with us at Zinzino discovered that the chemical structure of olive oil is very similar to that of the Omega-3-rich plant algae that many fish eat. When algae-eating fish are then eaten by other fish, the algae's nutrients travel throughout the fish population. The higher up the food chain a fish is, the more Omega-3 it gets. The inherent antioxidants in algae are crucial to maintaining the nutritional effect of the fatty acids inside the fish throughout the chain.

"We have developed a unique formula where we mix pure, premium fish oil with cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil known for its high levels of natural antioxidants, known as polyphenols", explains Emmalee Gisslevik.

"Extra virgin olive oil from olives harvested before ripening contains the same type of polyphenols found in oily fish. These extremely powerful antioxidants keep the Omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil from going rancid, thus enhancing the absorption of the fatty acids' nutrients in the body."


A Dietary Supplement for Young People

Emmalee Gisslevik has extensive experience in nutritional research with a focus on children and young people, and has taught in the field at the University of Gothenburg. Just over three years ago, she joined Zinzino as a research and development specialist, mainly to contribute her deep knowledge of fatty acids. Our globally growing company develops and sells test-based and personalized food supplements, which fit Emmalee Gisslevik like a glove as she had long been searching for a company that focused on applying the latest research in its product development. Today, she has helped develop the company's first product for children – BalanceOil Tutti Frutti. The polyphenol-based Omega-3 dietary supplement is based on our unique formula of pure fish oil and high-quality, cold-pressed olive oil, then flavored with tutti frutti. Behind the flavor selection is a long period of experimentation, analysis and focus group work.
"Many young people perceive the taste of fish oil as strong, but by masking it with another, appealing flavor, the product becomes more child-friendly without compromising the content. After a long period of monitoring and stability testing, we finally settled on the tutti-frutti flavor, which is a well-known favorite among children all over the world. When we have tested it in our focus groups, it has been very well received", explains Emmalee Gisslevik.

Blood Tests Show the Way

Everyone who starts using our BalanceOils is advised to first take a personal blood test to establish their individual baseline. Four months later, a follow-up test is done to measure the change in the body that the products have brought about. All our blood tests are analyzed by Vitas AS, an independent, GMP-certified contract laboratory in Oslo. Based on the results, a unique fatty acid profile is created and the recipient also receives personalized recommendations on which supplements are needed and how much. Emmalee Gisslevik explains that children differ in the analysis of the different fatty acid levels in their blood compared to adults. This is because young people have a higher metabolic rate, an undeveloped immune system and faster cell division, which affects their overall blood Omega ratio.
"Current guidelines and recommendations for Omega-3 are based on the needs and fatty acid composition of adults. When we developed our first food supplement for children, our partner Vitas also developed new analytical processes to examine blood tests from children", Emmalee Gisslevik says before concluding:
"Today, all of our blood test results and dosage recommendations are based on age-appropriate target values and guidelines. Children have special needs and a weight chart is common on many packages, but it is not always enough to guide them. This is why our new BalanceOil for children and blood tests for the entire family are such important contributions to the Omega-3 supplement market. Our large database, well-developed processes and deep knowledge of health and supplements give us confidence that our products really do make a difference in the body at any age and contribute to young people's development."