Omega-3, Omega-6 Fatty Acids Enhance Reading Skills In Children, Study Says

First Posted: Sep 21, 2016 03:00 AM EDT

Researchers discovered that there are positive effects of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in children with inattention and reading difficulties. The intake of fatty acids could improve their reading skills.

The study was printed in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. The team, which was led by Mats Johnson, a chief physician and researcher from the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre at Sahlgrenska Academy, wanted to know if the fatty acids could improve the reading skills of schoolchildren.

Johnson explained that the cell membranes in the brain are largely made up of polyunsaturated fats. Some studies suggest that fatty acids are significant for signal transmission between nerve cells and the regulation of signaling systems in the brain.

The study involved 154 schoolchildren from western Sweden ages between 9 to years of age and they were in grade 3. The team assessed their reading skills using the Logos test, which measured the reading speed, vocabulary and the ability to read nonsense words, according to Medical News Today.

Then, they assigned the children to take either capsule with both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids or identical placebo capsules containing palm oil. The children took the capsules for three months and with the remaining 3 months of the study they received the real omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids capsules.

Johnson said that even after 3 months, they could see the improvement of reading skills of the children compared with those who received the placebo. He further said that this was evident in the ability to read a nonsense word aloud and pronounce and a series of letters quickly.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that can be found in food such as fish, flax seeds, nuts, chia seeds, cured and canned fish, seafood, soybeans, and spinach, among others. Meanwhile, food with the great source of omega-6 fatty acids includes vegetable oil, salad dressings and mayonnaise, nuts and seeds, chicken and dairy eggs.


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