New findings from an Oxford University study reveal that omega-3 fatty acids can also be beneficial to learning, in addition to the many other health benefits associated with these fatty acids. More specifically, the new study found that taking Omega-3 supplements daily can help improve the the performance of children with poor reading skills.
Senior research fellow at Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention, Dr. Alex Richardson, said that their results showed daily supplementation of omega-3 DHA helped the poorest readers (or those who belonged in the lowest fifth of the normal range) to improve their reading performance and to catch up to other children in their reading age.
The study involved 362 children aged between seven and nine years; they were given 600mg of omega-3 fatty acid supplements every day for 16 weeks. At the end of this period, the scientists found that children who took the supplements and who were in the lowest 20 percent of the normal range of reading performance exhibited a three-week improvement in their reading skills compared to children who were given a placebo. Children in the lowest 10 percent of the normal range of reading performance improved their reading skills by 1.9 months.
Results of previous studies have shown that children with ADHD, dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder, and other such conditions have benefited from taking omega-3 supplements daily, added Paul Montgomery, Professor of Psychosocial Intervention at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention. He noted that this new study is the first to find similar benefits for regular school children.
The parents also reported reduced behavioral problems in their children. The children’s teachers, however, did not observe the same behavioral improvements.
Michael Crawford, from Imperial College London, pointed out that it is a “fundamental flaw” for people to “expect the brain to be manipulated in a period of 16 weeks.”