Monday, March 12, 2007

Omega-3 & the Brain

Last month I highlighted research out of Sweden that found four year olds already overweight, with features of metabolic syndrome and deficient in essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Interestingly, those children with the highest BMI consumed higher intake of sucrose (sugar) and lower fat.

Today the BBC reports on a very small study - involving four children - who were given fish oil supplements. Tests done at the end of the three-month study found the children showed an increase in reading age of well over a year, their handwriting became neater and more accurate and they paid more attention in class. Brain scans which identified a chemical called N-Acetylaspartate (NAA) which is linked to the growth of nerve fibres in the brain also showed dramatic changes.

Researcher Basant Puri said of his findings, "In three months you might expect to see a small NAA increase. But we saw as much growth as you would normally see in three years. It was as if these were the brains of children three years older. It means you have more connections and greater density of nerve cells, in the same way a tree grows more branches."

A large placebo controlled study is expected to get underway in the coming months to confirm the findings. On this, Puri said "My view is we can't come to any clear conclusion until a proper trial is done."


  1. I can remember when my daughter was an infant (she's 24 now) and my doc emphasised the importance of full fat dairy for her. He said (I never verified) many people had, when the low fat craze first started, cut fat in their diets as well as their children's. He said that as a result, there was a sharp increase in measurable developmental delays. Apparently if mild, the damage could be reversed with a high fat diet, there were some that were permanently damaged.

    I have always advised women I know who are or are planning on getting pregnant to not restrict fat. And I cringe at the recomendations for low fat dairy after age 2. IF EVER, it shouldn't be until school age.

    Do they mention the doses? I imagine it would be per kg dose?

    Also, Dr Davis posted an excellent article on Vit D recently.

    It all makes sense to me!

  2. Anonymous1:27 PM

    Hello - I have a friend who is a low fat advocate to the degree of fanaticism. She cannot meet you in the supermarket without commenting on what's in your basket and even comments on what my family is eating when she visits my house. We had butter on the table once and she literally looked like she was going to vomit. She has two sons. I have known them since kindergarten at which time they were placed in advanced classes. Now they are in HS and are not doing their work, getting straight F's, etc. She has taken them to a psychologist and apparently there is nothing emotionally wrong with them, etc. After reading this article on Omega Fats, I was wondering if they could have stopped developing normally. Is this a possibility?