Omega fish oils don't improve children's reading skills or memory, study finds

March 2, 2018, University of Birmingham
Omega fish oils don’t improve children’s reading skills or memory, study finds
Credit: University of Birmingham

New research has found no evidence Omega-3 fish oil supplements help aid or improve the reading ability or memory function of underperforming school-children.

These findings are in contradiction to an earlier study run by the same team using the same supplement.

In the second high-quality trial of its kind, published in PLOS ONE, the researchers found an entirely different result to an earlier study carried out in 2012, where were found to have a beneficial effect on the reading ability and working memory of school children with learning needs such as ADHD.

In this second study, the researchers tested children who were in the bottom quarter of ability in reading, and found that did not have any or very little effect on the children's or working memory and behaviours.

The team from the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford tested 376 children aged 7-9 years old, learning to read, but in the bottom quarter in terms of their ability.

Half of the children took a daily Omega-3 oil supplement and the remaining children took a placebo for 16 weeks.

Their reading and working memories were tested before and after by their parents at home and teachers in school—with no real differences found in the outcomes.

Professor Paul Montgomery, University of Birmingham, who led the research said:

"We are all keen to help kids who are struggling at school and in these times of limited resources, my view is that funds should be spent on more promising interventions. The effects here, while good for a few kids, were not substantial for the many."

Dr. Thees Spreckelsen, University of Oxford, Co-Author of the report added:

"Fish oil or Omega-3 fatty acids are widely regarded as beneficial. However, the evidence on benefits for children's learning and behaviour is clearly not as strong as previously thought."

Explore further: Trial of omega fatty acid supplementation in toddlers born preterm shows promising results

More information: Paul Montgomery et al. Docosahexaenoic acid for reading, working memory and behavior in UK children aged 7-9: A randomized controlled trial for replication (the DOLAB II study), PLOS ONE (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192909

Related Stories

Trial of omega fatty acid supplementation in toddlers born preterm shows promising results

March 1, 2018
Researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital have shown that omega fatty acid supplements may improve autism spectrum disorder symptoms in toddlers who were born very preterm (more than 11 weeks early). The study was published ...

Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplement improves reading for children

September 14, 2016
Supplement of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may improve reading skills of mainstream schoolchildren, according to a new study from Sahlgrenska Academy, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Children with attention problems, ...

Supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids might improve reading and behaviour for some children

September 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by the University of Oxford has shown that daily supplements of omega-3 fatty acids (Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA) improved the reading and behaviour of underperforming children in mainstream ...

Could fish oil in pregnancy prevent weight-related health issues in children?

February 28, 2018
Research underway in Auckland could give expectant mothers a new, simple way to improve the lifelong health of their child.

As kids' weight climbs, power of healthy fat supplements drops

April 5, 2017
Body weight plays a significant role in how much benefit children may get from consuming "good" fats, new research suggests.

Fish oil supplements may not help your heart: study

February 2, 2018
(HealthDay)—Claims that fish oil supplements help prevent death from heart disease, heart attacks and stroke may be unfounded, British research suggests.

Recommended for you

Small changes in diet can have a big impact on health

March 19, 2018
How's that New Year's resolution coming along? Getting ready for summer and want to look your best? Just want to feel better physically? Whatever your motivation, Mercedes Sotos-Prieto, an assistant professor of nutrition ...

Multiple screen use affects snack choices

March 19, 2018
Using multiple screen devices simultaneously while snacking may influence food choices, according to a new Michigan State University study.

Exposure to low levels of BPA during pregnancy can lead to altered brain development

March 17, 2018
New research in mice provides an explanation for how exposure to the widely used chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy, even at levels lower than the regulated "safe" human exposure level, can lead to altered brain ...

The coffee cannabis connection

March 15, 2018
It's well known that a morning cup of joe jolts you awake. But scientists have discovered coffee affects your metabolism in dozens of other ways, including your metabolism of steroids and the neurotransmitters typically linked ...

Smoking linked with higher risk of type 2 diabetes

March 15, 2018
The prevalence of diabetes has increased almost 10-fold in China since the early 1980s, with one in 10 adults in China now affected by diabetes. Although adiposity is the major modifiable risk factor for diabetes, other research ...

Key drivers of high US healthcare spending identified

March 13, 2018
The major drivers of high healthcare costs in the U.S. appear to be higher prices for nearly everything—from physician and hospital services to diagnostic tests to pharmaceuticals—and administrative complexity.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.