Many cultures the world over believe that fish is good for brain. Science, it appears, continues to give credence to this belief. Researchers at Oxford University have been conducting various studies on this, with interesting results.
Actually, it is not fish that seems offer benefits for the brain, but omega-3 fatty acids in the fish. Of particular interest are two compounds found in omega-3 fats.
We had previously posted a news report about how fish oil helped one child improve learning skills. This is just one of several posts, including this one in which there were two groups of school-age children, one on omega-3 and the other on placebo. The omega-3 group showed improvement not only in reading and learning skills, but also behavior.
A more recent study, also by Oxford researchers, used a slightly different approach but with similar end results. This time round, rather than giving omega-3 supplements to children, they tested levels of these essential fatty acids (EFAs) in already their blood, without supplementation or change in diet.
The children tested were those that may generally be regarded as low performers, that is, below average in reading skills for their age level based on national tests and teachers’ judgment. Blood samples from a total of 493 children. Also, the children were from 74 different schools which so it can safely be said that they were from different backgrounds.
All the blood samples showed that the children had below the minimum 4 percent recommended for DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), two most important compounds of omega-3 fatty acids. 8-12 percent is considered optimal.
Co-author Professor Paul Montgomery said: ‘From a sample of nearly 500 schoolchildren, we found that levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in the blood significantly predicted a child’s behaviour and ability to learn. Higher levels of Omega-3 in the blood, and DHA in particular, were associated with better reading and memory, as well as with fewer behaviour problems as rated by parents and teachers. (Source: Science Daily)
It was also revealed that these children’s diet was low in fish intake and that they were not on omega-3 supplements.
Parents also reported their child’s diet, revealing to the researchers that almost nine out of ten children in the sample ate fish less than twice a week, and nearly one in ten never ate fish at all. (Source: PsychCentral).
EPA and DHA, referred to as “long chain” omega3 fats, are found in cold-water fish and seafood. Marine algae have mainly DHA. Plant omega-3s such as chia, flaxseeds and walnuts supply ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Vegans and others who do not wish to take in fish products may have to opt for Vegan DHA supplements from marine algae.
Statements made on this page have not been evaluated by Food and Drug Administration. The product(s) featured is/are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, on medication, or have a medical condition, consult a licensed medical practitioner before starting on a new supplement.