A new place-bo-controlled, double blind study of 154 nine and 10 years old in Sweden appears to confirm that those children that are given Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids may drastically improve their reading ability. In this study, the children were randomly assigned to three groups. The first group was given Omega 3 supplements, the second group Omega 6 supplements, and the control group was given an identical looking tablet which contained a placebo (palm oil). After three months, all the children were given Omega 3/6 capsules as part of the study. The children’s reading ability was measure with the aid of a computer-based ‘Logos’ test.
The authors of the study noted that children who were given fatty acids demonstrated significantly enhanced reading skills even after three months. Although none of the children had been diagnosed with ADHD, those children with mild attention issues experienced the greater improvement in reading with the administration of fatty acids.
The role of polyunsaturated fats in children’s learning and development is a growing area of interest. Matt Johnson, from the University of Gothenburg notes that the cell membranes in the brain are largely made up of polyunsaturated fats, and that some studies have noted that supplementation of fatty oils may enhance signal transmission betweeen nerve cells; this may explain some of the results seen in this study.
Other studies have failed to show a signicant association between fatty acid consumption and cognitive performance.
Several interesting questions come to mind including whether the auhors would have controlled for the IQ level of children, and whether other cognifive skills (e.g. mathematical) might have also benefited from the fatty oil supplementation.
There is certaintly plenty a very interesting base to build on for future studies into the link between omega oils and IQ / cognitive performance.
Omega oils and IQ
The jury is still out as to whether the consumption of omega oils can lead to a lasting boost in IQ.
Rick Rosner, with an IQ of 192, incorporates the consumption of fish oil (as well as aspirin) into his daily breakfast diet. Despite the scant evidence, many intelligent people (including the author of this posting) supplement with fatty oils.
However, although there is some positive association between Omega oils and IQ, there are risks in supplementing with fatty acids. For instance, owing to the lack of regulation of supplements, the source of the fatty acids (particularly fish oils) could be contaminated, or could even contain mercury and other pollutants, which could theoretically negate any IQ benefits that fatty oil supplementation may bring. For this reason, people willing to take the risk should at least search our the purest grade fish oils, and keep these in a cool and dark environment to help prevent the product from going off.
On a personal note, the number of studies confirming some positive cognitive effect from fatty oil supplementation seem too many to be spurious.
You can test your IQ at www.iq-brain.com