The Brain Train – How Omega 3 Fatty Acids Can Help Brain Development In Young People
Scientific Study Reveals How Taking Fish Oil Supplements Advances Brain Development From Childhood
Researchers around the world have looked into Omega 3 as cure for almost every conceivable disease and ailment.
One area that has not received much attention over the years is the effect of Omega 3 on the young. Recently, however, researchers in the United Kingdom carried out a study on school children in Durham, England to see whether Omega 3 could make a noticeable impact on Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is a condition associated with decreased levels of omega 3 in the blood and usually starts in childhood. It is one of the most commonly occurring brain-based disorders where its associated problems continue throughout adolescence and into adulthood.
Comprehensive surveys have been taking place in the United States for over decade. These show that the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase; from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011. This equated to 6.4 million 4-17 year olds in 2011.
Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
As with other behavioural disorders, ADHD comes in degrees of severity and in various guises. Its symptoms often include difficulty getting and staying focused, modulating attention and restraining impulsivity. The children with ADHD are usually the ones who find it difficult to listen, follow instructions or complete tasks they have started.
Research also suggests children with ADHD present significantly more issues than those without the disorder.
• Parents report that children with a history of ADHD are almost 10 times as likely to have difficulties that interfere with friendships.
• A higher percentage of children with ADHD were more likely to suffer major injuries than those without the condition (59% vs. 49%).
• The annual cost to society of the disorder was estimated at between $36 and $52 billion, in 2005 dollars. (This assumes a prevalence rate of 5%).
• ADHD is not just a problem for the United States. Based on data from 10 countries, ADHD was responsible for 143.8 million lost days of economic production each year.
In the Durham research 100 children from 12 schools across the county were given capsules containing oils high in omega 3 fats with their meals. The children, possessing generally normal ability, were selected on the basis that they were not fulfilling their potential at school.
During the trial many children showed remarkable improvements in their behaviour and ability to learn. For example:
• A nine year old boy who had difficulty reading and was falling behind in his other school work found his academic problems disappeared. Previously he was not motivated to study and was only interested in watching TV after coming home from school. Over the course of trial he experienced a drastic change. He sailed through the Harry Potter books and his first port of call is now the library after school day is over.
• It was noted in another boy whose mother didn't consider him to have any problems that he started to participate more in class discussions and his handwriting became better.
"Omega 3's can improve brain function at the very simplest level, by improving blood flow", said Dr Alex Richardson co-author of the study.
Polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids are vital for staying healthy. They are the good fats found in fish and fish oil. While they are essential for the proper functioning of many parts of our body, the human body can't make them. We have to "top up" on a daily basis from our food intake.
Most western diets however, contain very little Omega 3 fatty acids. The process of hydrogenation, by which foods are given their long shelf life, removes omega 3.
Although the Durham results have not yet been published they are expected to show a statistically significant improvement in school performance in the group of children given omega 3 supplements. Whereas not every child benefited from the treatment, the researchers believe that about 40% of children showed some clear improvement.
Stephanie Jarrett is the co-founder of Nutri-Vive, a company specialising in natural dietary supplements for improved health. Nutri-Vive are the makers of high quality fish oil supplements (amazon.com/gp/product/B00G6TR2H8) and other natural health products
Tel: +44(0)20 8551 1495
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