Brain benefit of EFA’s once again demonstrated by Swedish study on school children

efacapsulesSupplementing with essential fatty acids (EFA’s) may improve reading skills of mainstream schoolchildren, according to a new study from Sweden.

Children with attention problems, in particular, may be helped in their reading with the addition of these fatty acids.

The study was conducted at Sahlgrenska Academy, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The study was relatively small, involving just 154 schoolchildren; however, it was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, which is the gold standard in scientific research.

The study participants were third grade students from western Sweden, aged between nine and ten years old.

The children took a computer-based test (known as the Logos test) that measured their reading skills in a variety of ways, including reading speed, ability to read nonsense words and vocabulary.

The children were randomly assigned to receive either capsules with omega-3 and omega-6, or identical capsules that contained a placebo (palm oil) for 3 months.

The children, parents and researchers did not learn until the study was completed which children had received fatty acids and which had received the placebo.

After three months, all children received real omega-3/6 capsules for the final three months of the study.

According to Mats Johnson, who is chief physician and researcher at the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg:

“Even after three months, we could see that the children’s reading skills improved with the addition of fatty acids, compared with those who received the placebo.

This was particularly evident in the ability to read a nonsense word aloud and pronounce it correctly (phonologic decoding), and the ability to read a series of letters quickly (visual analysis time).

“Our modern diet contains relatively little omega-3, which it is believed to have a negative effect on our children when it comes to learning, literacy and attention.

“The cell membranes in the brain are largely made up of polyunsaturated fats, and there are studies that indicate that fatty acids are important for signal transmission between nerve cells and the regulation of signaling systems in the brain.

“Our study suggests that children could benefit from a dietary supplement with a special formula. To be more certain about the results, they should also be replicated in other studies.”

Reporting the results of the study, the article Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children was published by The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Essential Fatty Acid supplements are available at most healthfood stores.

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