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Brains and Kids

Fish oil has repeatedly been shown to help the learning ability of children. This probably due to the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Interestingly, one of those omega-3’s is DHA which is found in a human mother’s milk.

An English study is following 60 infants aged 20-36 months. The infants are supplemented daily with fish oil. They have found that in only 3 months learning skill performance of 60% of the infants “has improved dramatically”. Some of these children have made up a 6 month deficit in learning skills in just those three months.

Another study recruited pregnant women aged 18-40 who planned on breast-feeding exclusively for four months. The control group received capsules of vegetable oil and the remaining women received fish oil capsules daily after they had given birth. Babies whose mothers took the fish oil scored much higher on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at the age of 30 months. The Bayley test is considered the gold standard for evaluating young children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2005.

A review of over 50 studies, most of which are very recent, suggests that DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil) improves cognitive and behavioral performances. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August, 2005.

Other studies have shown that school-age children with dyspraxia (a condition that encompasses problems with motor skills and coordination) improved dramatically when given a fish oil supplement.

In a study of over 3,000 adults it was found that those who had been breast-fed for 7-9 months had higher IQ’s than those who were breast-fed for two weeks or less. Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA).

These studies are so important to all parents because they show us that the development of a child, both behaviorally and intellectually is not a random matter. Nor is it based solely on genetics. In fact, science has finally come to the realization that genetics are only a small factor in our development. Environment is the major factor in our development, and nutrition is a major environmental factor .

These studies show us that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA) are extremely important for the development of a young mind. Before the advent of processed foods and mass production of meat for market the ration of omega-3 to omega-6 fats in the diet was probably around 1:2. Today it is anywhere from 1:20 to 1:50 for the Standard American diet. Because of this we need to supplement in order to get adequate supplies of omega-3’s in our diet. Fish oil is the source for long-chain fatty acids (including DHA).

Parents! A high quality fish oil supplement is the single most important dietary supplement you can give your children. Are they worth it?

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