Omega 3/6 fatty acids can improve children’s reading ability, says study

Omega 3

Reading is an important ability in school learning. Children’s reading skills can directly influence their academic achievement.

In a study newly published in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, researchers find that intake of Omega 3/6 fatty acids may help promote schoolchildren’s reading ability.

The study was conducted by University of Gothenburg in Sweden. A total of 154 schoolchildren   aged 9-11 took part in the study. Among them, 122 completed the first 3 months, and 105 completed the whole study (6 months).

The study included two parts, each lasted 3 months. In the first part, the children were randomly assigned to two groups: one group received capsules with Omega 3/6 fatty acids twice a day, whereas the other group received capsules that contained a placebo twice a day. In the second part, both groups received capsules with omega 3/6 fatty acids twice a day.

Children’s reading abilities were tested before the study, 3 months after receiving Omega 3/6 fatty acids or placebo, and at the end of the study. The reading tests included reading speed, non-word reading, and vocabulary.

Researchers found that at 3 months, children who received Omega 3/6 showed better phonological processing and visual analysis than children who received placebo.

In addition, children with high ADHD scores showed Omega 3/6 benefits in visual analysis, phonological processing and reading speed. Adverse effects were rare and mild, with 9 children had stomach pain when taking Omega 3/6 and 2 children had stomach pain when taking placebo.

Researchers suggest that 3 months of Omega 3/6 treatment can improve reading ability in schoolchildren. In particular, children with attention problems can benefit from Omega 3/6.

Food naturally rich in Omega 3:

  • Wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, shad and trout
  • Flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds
  • Avocado
  • Kale, spinach, mustard green, collards, and purslane

Food naturally rich in Omega 6:

  • Flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, hempseeds, grapeseed oil
  • Pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, raw sunflower seeds
  • Borage oil, black current seed oil
  • Acai

Citation: Johnson M, et al. (2016). Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 9-year-old mainstream schoolchildren in Sweden. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, published online. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12614.
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.