Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Can Omega-3s Help Your Kids in School?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

Kids are under a lot of pressure today. In order to succeed, they have to do tons of homework, compete with their peers, and get top notch grades.

And as a concerned parent — or grandparent — you probably want your kids to do well too, right?

Well, according to several studies, supplementing with omega-3s might impact a child’s overall school performance.

So apart from the obvious, such as after-school tutoring, nutritional changes may be able to give your child an extra edge.

Let’s explore a bit more below.

Omega-3s May Help Reading Scores

As a former reading tutor, I can tell you that many kids struggle with reading problems. This is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, since poor reading skills can negatively impact their future — not to mention their self-esteem.

A 2012 study showed that DHA (a type of omega-3) improved the reading scores of children. Scientists recruited healthy kids who scored low on standardized reading tests and gave one group of students 600 mg of DHA from algal oil and the other group a placebo. The treatment lasted 16 weeks.

The results of the study were interesting. The DHA had no effect on kids who scored in the lowest third of standardized tests, but it did help those kids in the lowest fifth.1 These kids were able to catch up with their classmates, which is certainly a good thing.

Omega-3s Boost IQ

Children can reap the benefits of omega-3s way before they enter school. In fact, the benefits actually start in the womb.

Norwegian researchers found that women who took DHA and EPA during pregnancy (or lactation) had children with higher IQs.2 The IQ scores were determined when the children reached 4 years of age.

Why the connection? It might have to do with the makeup of a baby’s brain, which is largely composed of DHA.

DHA is needed for the growth of neurons and other brain structures during fetal development. So it’s no wonder that omega-3s impact a child’s intelligence when they’re older.

Additional Benefits of Omega-3 for Kids in School

Apart from helping reading scores and boosting a child’s IQ, omega-3s have been shown to help children in other ways, including the following:

Ask any teacher, and he or she will tell you these factors are extremely important for overall school performance as well. It’s not all about IQ or reading scores. ;)

How to Get More Omega-3s Into Kids

Omega-3 acids are often lacking in today’s processed, Western diets. That is why we suggest fish oil supplements. They contain DHA and EPA, which is not found in flax oil, for example.

Coldwater fish like salmon and tuna are great sources of DHA and EPA, but we all know that most kids are finicky eaters, and fish is usually not a favorite food.

Luckily, the market has plenty of omega-3 fish oils that are very kid-friendly. Look around a little — we’re sure you won’t have any problems finding some great options.

The Bottom Line

These days, kids are at increased pressure to perform well in school, even more so than a decade ago. So why not supplement their diet with something that is healthy and may even boost their performance?

Have any of you found that fish or omega-3s have helped your own kid’s (or grandkid’s) overall school performance? Please share your experience in the comments!


  1. PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e43909.
  2. Pediatrics. 2003 Jan;111(1):e39-44.
  3. Nutrition. 2012 Jun;28(6):670-7.
  4. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jun;107 Suppl 2:S85-106.


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  3. I GOT lots of useful info from this webpage. I am searching for a lifeextension omega 3 product suitable for children. what do you think of Super Omega-3 Plus EPA/DHA with Sesame Lignans, Olive Extract, Krill & Astaxanthin for children?

  4. Unknown, please check with your child's pediatrician first. :)