Is your child having a hard time keeping up with his classmates’ reading levels? A dose of DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) may be able to help him.

DHA is an important omega-3 fatty acid that is usually found in fish and other seafood, and it has been known to improve behavior and boost learning in children with neurodevelopmental conditions such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). reports that researchers have conducted the DHA Oxford Learning and Behaviour (DOLAB) study to find out whether or not these benefits extend to regular, healthy children. The results have been published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Researchers from the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at Oxford University invited 362 children between the ages of seven and nine who had underperformed in their reading exams to participate in a four-month long experiment. The kids were divided into two groups. One group was given a daily dose of omega-3 DHA, while the other was given a vegetable oil placebo each day. What the researchers learned was encouraging.

“Our results showed that taking daily supplements of omega-3 DHA improved reading performance for the poorest readers (those in the lowest fifth of the normal range) and helped these children to catch up with their peer group," explains lead study author Alex Richardson.

With similar studies currently being done, more information on how DHA can improve children’s behavior and learning skills is expected to be available in the future. Also note that, although omega-3 DHA has its benefits, it’s important to consult your doctor before giving daily doses of it to your child.

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(Photo by Clear Water Public Library System Photos via Flickr Creative Commons)

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