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Study: Low Omega-3s & Children’s Inability to Concentrate

According to an Oxford University study, reported on September 13, 2013, by, a representative sample of U.K. schoolchildren aged 7 to 9 years had low levels of key omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Further, the study found that children’s blood levels of the long-chain omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) “significantly predicted” how well they were able to concentrate and learn.

Blood samples were taken from these children from 74 mainstream schools in Oxfordshire, England. The children were thought to have below average reading skills, based on a national assessment test. It was found that, on average, just under two percent of the children’s total blood fatty acids were omega-3 DHA, and 0.5 percent were omega-3 EPA (eicosapentanoic acid), with a total of 2.45 percent for these long-chain omega-3s combined.

Parents also reported on their child’s diet, revealing to the researchers that almost nine out of 10 children in the sample ate fish less than twice a week, and nearly one in 10 never ate fish at all, ScienceDaily reported.

According to co-author of the study, Professor Paul Montgomery, levels of omega-3 fatty acids in blood can significantly predict a child’s ability to learn. “From a sample of nearly 500 school children, we found that levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood significantly predicted a child’s behavior and ability to learn,” he said. “Higher levels of omega-3 in the blood, and DHA in particular, were associated with better reading and memory, as well as with fewer behavioral problems as rated by parents and teaches.”

These findings build on prior studies that showed that dietary supplementation of omega-3 DHA improved both reading progress and behavior in children from the general school population who were behind in reading, according to ScienceDaily.

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