Fish Oil and IQMarch 19, 2009 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Let’s face it, we are all affected both positively and negatively by the genes we inherit. Intelligence and overall brain function are no exceptions to this rule. But there are things that parents can do to help encourage optimal brain development in their kids. Today I’m going to focus on one simple strategy that can help ensure that nutrition plays a constructive role in shaping the minds of this and future generations.
It’s not always easy to get young folks to eat more fish. But it’s vitally important that they do. Modern science is proving, time and time again, that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help support the proper growth and function of young and nutritionally impressionable minds. I know that some of you are probably thinking that no matter how healthy fish is, your kids will never actually eat it. Fortunately, the natural health community has taken this issue to task and actually formulated good tasting fish oil supplements. Really!
Nothing Fishy About It
New research published in the March issue of Acta Paediatrica examined the cognitive effects of regular fish consumption on a group of nearly 4,000 fifteen year old males. The researchers scrutinized 3 years worth of food frequency questionnaires and performed intelligence tests once the boys reached the age of 18. Here’s what the Swedish researchers discovered:
- 58% of the young men had fish once a week. 20% ate fish more than once weekly.
- The teens that ate fish more than once a week scored 12% higher in “combined intelligence scores” (encompassing combined, verbal and visuospatial intelligence) – as compared to those that ate less than 1 serving of fish per week.
- Verbal intelligence was shown to be 9% higher in the frequent fish eaters. Those eating one serving a week also benefited by scoring 4% higher.
- The visuospatial scores yielded 11% higher marks for those that ate the most fish. Those consuming one serving per week found a more modest improvement of 7%. Visuospatial intelligence relates to the brains ability to utilize visual perception of spatial relationships. One example of this would be the ability to put together a jigsaw puzzle.
- The level of education of the participants didn’t appear to impact the results.
Dr. Maria Aberg of the Center for Brain Repair and Rehabilitation at the University of Gothenburg offered these concluding remarks, “Having looked very carefully at the wide range of variables explored by this study it was very clear that there was a significant association between regular fish consumption at 15 and improved cognitive performance at 18.”
Teenagers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from getting their fair share of fish/fish oil. A study published in 2007 demonstrated a connection between infant formula supplemented with fish oil and brain and visual functioning in young children.
The researchers in that study followed up with young children at the age of 4 who had consumed “baby formula” that was fortified with DHA (a fatty acid in fish oil) and ARA (a non-fish fatty acid). The babies who were fed the fatty acid combination fared as well, with regard to brain and ocular (eye) health, as similar babies who were breast fed. Babies who were given regular infant formula without the added healthy fats were found to suffer in the cognitive and visual parameters tested.
The authors of this study, which appeared in the journal Early Human Development, summarized their findings as follows, “DHA and ARA-supplementation of infant formula supports visual acuity and IQ maturation similar to that of breast-fed infants.”
I’m a firm believer in the power and usefulness of never accepting our fate. I believe we must challenge our physical and psychological shortcomings. Sometimes that means trying to view our situation from a different perspective. But other times, there are tools that can realistically give us an upper hand over our genetic blueprint. I think the key is to be well informed and armed with determination, patience and reasonable expectations.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Brain, Fish Oil, Food and Drink
Posted in Memory, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements