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Omega-3 Supplements Improve School Performance and Behavior

Omega-3 Supplements Improve School Performance and Behavior

Doctors say fish oil supplements may be an inexpensive way to improve school performance.

There is a study going on now that is testing omega-3 krill oil in adolescent students. In a related trial, doctors took blood samples from 266 of the participants in the krill oil study to measure omega-3 EPA/DHA levels and test cognitive performance.

Overall, omega-3 levels were less than half the recommended range. Doctors had expected this because 14 percent consumed no fish, and 77 percent only rarely. Those with higher omega-3 levels performed better on two of the nine cognitive measures, including a number-symbol test, where students must quickly associate an unfamiliar symbol with the correct number; and an attention test, where the higher-omega-3 group had more accurate memory, indicating less impulsiveness. Doctors said fish oil supplements may be an inexpensive way to improve school performance. (Reference: Nutrients; 2016, Vol. 8, No. 1, Published Online)

This is not all. In another study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition; 2016, Vol. 115, No. 2, 361-73, doctors looked at the connection betwen omega-3 nutritional supplements and behavior

It turns out, good nutrition may help improve bad behavior. In this study, 196 typically developing 13 to 16-year-olds took a placebo or a vitamin-mineral-omega-3 supplement for 12 weeks. Doctors measured changes in levels of omega-3, omega-6, and in some vitamins and minerals. All participants were low in omega-3s at the start of the study, but levels improved significantly in those taking omega-3s.

Overall, the basic quality of behavior in this student body was good, and school discipline records did not change significantly. But doctors asked teachers to rate changes in student behavior. According to teacher reports, over the 12 weeks, those taking omega-3s had improved behavior while behavior in the placebo group deteriorated. Doctors are calling for a larger study to confirm a link between nutrition and behavior.

Note: A version of this article appeared in the Summer 2016 Willner Window Newsletter/Product Catalog.

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