A daily dose of fish oils dramatically improves the behaviour and concentration of pre-school children, a new study reveals.
Children in the study took daily supplements of Omega-3 – polyunsaturated fats found in significant amounts only in oily fish – and after just six weeks, parents reported an improvement in the learning abilities of children as young as 20 months old.
Research into the effect of fish oil supplements on older children has produced positive results, but this is the first time the effect has been tested on pre-school children.
Children were tested for their motor skills, IQ, reading, spelling and behaviour, and the study showed significant improvement even among toddlers who had been disruptive and unable to concentrate.
The biggest improvements were noted in the children’s behaviour and concentration.
The study, based in Durham, England, and associated with Oxford University, also revealed a large reduction in symptoms associated with attention deficit and hyperactivity.
“We saw children whose learning skills went from being six months below their chronological age to absolutely normal in just three months,” said principal researcher Dr. Madeleine Portwood.
Omega-3 fats make up a quarter of the gray matter in the brain. They’re found in the greatest amounts in salmon, mackerel, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna.
“Omega 3 is essential for healthy bodies and brain,” said Dr. Portwood. “Increased consumption may contribute to improved learning.” Professor Robert Winston of Imperial College London, who has done substantial research on the effects of fish oils on disruptive children, said the new study’s results are “extremely impressive.
“The evidence is getting ever stronger that children who have diets poor in Omega-3 are not achieving their natural potential.”