Taking daily supplements of fish oils may boost reading performance in children, according to new findings.
Scientists at Oxford University gave 362 children, between the ages of seven and nine, 600mg omega-3 fatty acid pills or a placebo every day for 16 weeks.
Results from the study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, reveal that while there was no significant effect in the overall study sample, researchers found that children whose reading skills were in the lowest fifth of the normal range improved their reading age by three weeks, which was more than the control group taking a placebo.
Additionally, the group of children who initially scored the lowest 10 percent improved their reading age by 1.9 months, according to the study funded by DSM Nutritional Lipids which makes omega-3 supplements but conducted independently by researchers at Oxford University
"Our results showed that taking daily supplements of omega-3 DHA improved reading performance for the poorest readers (those in the lowest fifth of the normal range) and helped these children to catch up with their peer group," researcher Dr. Alex Richardson of the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford University, said in a statement.
"Previous studies have shown benefits from dietary supplementation with omega-3 in children with conditions such as ADHD, Dyslexia and Developmental Coordination Disorder, but this is the first study to show such positive results in children from the general school population," researcher Paul Montgomery, Professor of Psychosocial Intervention at the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford University, said in a statement.
Researchers noted that parents whose children showed an improvement in reading ability also reported an overall improvement in behavior. However, while parents said that their children appeared to be better behaved, their teachers did not report similar improvements like less hyperactivity and "opposition-defiant behavior."