essential fatty acids improve kids' reading

A safe, simple supplement can improve your child’s reading ability. . . .

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are called essential fatty acids because it is essential that they are in your diet, since the body needs them but can’t produce them. They are essential components of the brain.

Lots of research has shown that deficiencies in omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When kids with ADHD take EFA supplements, cognitive function and behavior improves significantly (Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2002.

We also now know that EFA’s can help kids who don’t have ADHD to focus better and process information faster (Nutrients 2016;8:13).

So, does all this mean that giving your kids EFA supplements could help them improve their reading?

To see, 122 children between the ages of 9 and 10 were given either a placebo or an EFA supplement containing omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs for 3 months in a double-blind study. The supplement contained 558 mg EPA, 174 mg DHA, and 60 mg gamma-linolenic acid. EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids; GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid.

The EFA supplement significantly improved the children’s reading skills, including phonologic decoding time (the ability to read and pronounce a nonsense word) and visual analysis (the ability to read a series of letters quickly). The researchers say that these two skills are “clinically relevant”: they are essential functions in reading ability and their inability to work properly is a key factor in dyslexia.

Reading comprehension also improved significantly.

Though no one in the study had ADHD, the kids who had the most ADHD symptoms significantly improved in visual analysis time, reading speed and phonologic decoding time.

This study may be the first double-blind study to ever show that omega-3 and -6 EFA’s can improve the reading skills of school kids (the kids in this study were in grade 3).

Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2017;58(1):83-93

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