It’s well known that omega-3 fatty acids support cognitive function in everyone from kids to seniors.* And now, new research from Sweden suggests a very specific and important benefit for school-age kids. The study, soon to be published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, found that omega-3 supplementation improved the reading skills of nine- and ten-year-olds.*
For the study, researchers divided 154 children in mainstream classrooms into two groups. One group took months while the other group took a placebo. For the next three months, all the kids took the omega-3/6 supplement. Reading skills were assessed at the beginning of the study and again at 3 months and 6 months using a computer-based reading test called Logos.
At the three-month point, the children who were taking the omega-3/6 had improved reading skills compared to those who were taking the placebo.* They were better able to read a nonsense word aloud and pronounce it correctly, and they were also better able to read a series of letters quickly.* Both of these skills help kids decode written text.* Even more encouraging, the students who were identified by their parents as having (in other words, not attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) showed the greatest improvement.* Specifically, their reading speed increased.*
Lead researcher Dr. Mats Johnson, chief physician and researcher in neuropsychology at the University of Gothenburg, commented, “Our modern diet contains relatively little omega-3, which to have a negative effect on our children when it comes to learning, literacy, and attention.” He went on to explain that this is because fatty acids play an important role in signal transmission among brain cells, whose membranes are largely made up of polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3s.*
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and cod are among the best food sources of omega-3s, but many kids are fussy about eating fish. If your school-age children are not fish fans, you can try incorporating walnuts and flax seeds into their diet, or you can try a flavored fish oil or flaxseed oil .
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
 Johnson M, et al. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;58(1):83-93. [Epub ahead of print]