Previous generations were often fed a daily diet of fish oil (often as cod liver oil) by their parents in the belief that these oils confered some protection against illness. My mother occassionally will still interject into a conversation her experience with being made to swallow that "awful" cod liver oil each day. She hated the daily spoonful but had no choice in the matter - it was part of growing up in her day...and not only for her, but for everyone she knew.
Well, now it seems Grandma was right - fish oils are good for you!
Today the Guardian reports on a new study that shows significant benefit for toddlers given fish oils each day in the areas of behavior and intelligence.
After just six weeks of daily doses of Omega-3, parents reported a transformation in the behaviour and learning abilities of children as young as 20 months old.
Professor Robert Winston from the Institute of Reproductive & Developmental Biology at Imperial College London went on to say that children who are not getting enough omega-3 are significantly disadvantaged:
"The evidence is getting ever stronger that children who have diets poor in Omega-3 are not achieving their natural potential."
What were the significant effects of the fish oil supplementation?
The biggest improvements, however, were observed in the children's concentration and behaviour. 'The performance of almost 60 per cent of the children involved has improved dramatically,' said Dr Madeleine Portwood, educational psychologist for Durham local education authority and lead investigator at the Durham Sure Start trial. 'We saw children whose learning skills went from being six months below their chronological age to absolutely normal in just three months.'
An even bigger benefit - "Some two-year-olds went from having a vocabulary of 25 single words to being able to use whole sentences, while others were able to sit down and concentrate for the first time in their lives."
While decades ago Grandma may not have known why fish oils were good for you, we do now - it's the omega-3 content that is beneficial in our diet.