Omega-3 fatty acids – the compounds that lend fish the moniker of "brain food" – are well-known as cognitive enhancers for people of all ages. In past posts, we've covered studies regarding the benefits of these fatty acids for children, including a review indicating that taking omega-3 supplements during pregnancy may boost a child's IQ score years later.
Now, new research from Oxford University in the United Kingdom has further supported this finding. Scientists from the academic institution sought to determine if a correlation existed between low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, cognitive ability and overall behavior in children. This assertion was based on existing data linking omega-3 deficiencies and conditions including ADHD and dyslexia.
The researchers recruited 493 school children between 7 and 9 years of age who had performed below the national average on reading assessments, a study abstract published by the journal PLOS ONE states.
"Lower DHA concentrations were associated with poorer reading ability […] and working memory performance […] Lower DHA was also associated with higher levels of parent-rated oppositional behavior and emotional liability," the scientists found.
Based on these results, the researchers concluded that children may benefit from omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, particularly if they don't have access to these compounds in their daily diet.
Though further research is necessary to establish this relationship, it backs up previous data regarding the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for brain health and development.