February 28/London/Oxford University -- Researchers at Oxford University in England are investigating the impact of omega-3 supplementation on reading ability, memory and behavior in children of elementary school age. This new research provides promising evidence on the benefits of adequate omega-3 fatty acids for children who find reading difficult.

A recent 16-week study that included children between the ages of seven and nine by Oxford University researchers found a significant improvement in reading ability within the lowest percentile of the group.

Parents whose children struggle with reading understand the importance of the recent study findings which link a daily supplement of omega-3 found in seafood with improved literacy.

“We would all be better off if we included more Omega-3 in our diet,” said Louisiana Representative Bill Cassidy, M.D. “One of the great things about seafood is that it supplies that.”

Parents have found it to be difficult, despite encouragement, to get their kids to eat seafood. Omega-3 supplements may represent a potential solution, but should not completely replace creative cookery with seafood.

Some children in the study were given a daily dose of three 600mg capsules of omega-3 fatty acids, while another group of children received capsules containing vegetable oil as a comparison.

Scores/levels of reading age, working memory and behavior was assessed before and after the course of omega-3 or vegetable oil supplements by parents and teachers.

While the omega-3 supplements were found to have little effect on memory, a significant improvement in reading ability was seen in young readers in the lowest 20% of the study group. These children increased their reading age by more than three-weeks, and those in the lowest 10% reading ability increased their reading age by 1.9 months.

The parents of the children in the study also indicated a significant improvement in the children’s behavior, although their teachers did not report this observance.

Alex Richardson, team leader for the study, made clear that taking omega-3 supplements would not benefit a child that already had a good intake of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. These supplements would however make an important contribution to children whose diet was poor in these nutrients.

Richardson also highlighted the potential benefit that omega-3 fatty acids have on children who struggle most with their reading.