There may be some truth in what they say about fish being good for brain. According to a recent study, omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) may not only help kids perform better in tests, but also be better behaved.
Previously, most tests on the benefits of fish oil for the brain have been centered around certain disorders such as ADHD and bipolar. However, in one investigation on the effects of fish oil on school-age children, it was found that children who took omega-3 supplements showed improvements in learning skills as well as behavior. The more recent study, done by the University of Oxford, appears to support these findings.
The research suggests that DHA supplementation is a simple and effective way to improve reading and behaviour in healthy but underperforming children. DHA is a key omega-3 fatty acid found in fish and seafood, but in this study the source was algae, making it suitable for vegetarians.
The DHA Oxford Learning and Behaviour (DOLAB) study, which compared daily supplements of omega-3 DHA with placebo.
Dr Alex Richardson, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford University, said: ‘Our results showed that taking daily supplements of omega-3 DHA improved reading performance for the poorest readers (those in the lowest fifth of the normal range) and helped these children to catch up with their peer group.’
Paul Montgomery, Professor of Psychosocial Intervention at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford University, said: ‘Previous studies have shown benefits from dietary supplementation with omega-3 in children with conditions such as ADHD, Dyslexia and Developmental Coordination Disorder, but this is the first study to show such positive results in children from the general school population.’
The researchers worked with Oxfordshire County Council’s Education Department to identify 362 healthy children from mainstream state schools in Oxfordshire, aged between seven and nine, who underperformed on a standardised reading test.
The treatment was a fixed dose of 600 mg/day of omega-3 DHA from algal oil. For 16 weeks, the school provided the capsules to the children on school days with the parents giving them to their children at all other times. See original post
So, what is the best age for kids start on DHA supplementation? Actually, they should start at minus zero. Expectant mothers can start by taking a good DHA fish oil supplement. This may not only help in making smarter babies, but DHA is also important for supporting other development aspects of babies, before birth and beyond.
While eating lots of fatty fish may provide you with the important DHA fatty acid, you run the risk of ingesting unsafe levels of mercury, PCBs and dioxins. Not good for mother or the baby. Good quality fish oil pills will have undergone a delicate purification process that removes toxins without damaging the active ingredients.