Fatty acids from algae can benefit brain

Diets that include a specific type of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid play a role in positive brain health, studies show.

A recent trial published online in PLOS-ONE Journal found that supplementation with 600 milligrams of DHA (sourced from algae) a day for 16 weeks, improved reading and behaviour in healthy school-aged children with low reading scores.

The Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Oxford Learning and Behaviour (DOLAB) trial is the first large, randomized and placebo-controlled study demonstrating the benefits of this nutrient in reading and behaviour among healthy school children.

In an analysis of 224 children with baseline reading scores below the 20th percentile, algal DHA supplementation significantly improved reading.

Reading was also significantly improved in the subgroup of 105 children with baseline reading scores below the 10th percentile. Reading performance was evaluated using a standardized word reading test, The British Ability Scales (BAS II).

When comparing reading ages, results from the DOLAB trial also found that supplementation with algal DHA led to an additional gain in reading age.

Supplementation with 600 mg algal DHA for 16 weeks led to an additional 0.8 month gain in reading age in children with baseline readings scores below the 20th percentile.

In addition, for children with baseline reading scores below the 10th percentile, algal DHA supplementation led to an additional 1.9 month gain in reading age.

The results come at a time when many adults have limited to basic reading skills. According to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 48 percent of Canadians have low levels of literacy, pointing to the need for children to increase their reading performance at an early age.

“Maintaining overall health – and especially brain health – through good nutrition is critical, particularly at a young age when the brain is constantly developing,” says Dr. David Perlmutter, a board-certified neurologist and author of Raise a Smarter Child by Kindergarten.

Lifetime benefits

DHA is a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid found throughout the body and it is a major structural fat in the brain. Numerous studies confirm that everyone, from infants to adults, benefits from an adequate supply of this nutrient.

 

View original article at: Fatty acids can benefit brain

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