Higher Omega-3 Index Linked to Better Brain Function in Young Children

October 22nd 2018

A recent study has linked whole blood levels of omega-3s with better brain function in children, aged 2 to 6 years.

Whole blood levels of omega-3s are associated with better brain function in children, aged 2 to 6 years, according to a recent study.

1-2

Published in the

, the study investigated the relationship between whole-blood fatty acids (FA) and executive function in 307 children from Northern Ghana. Dried blood spot samples were collected and analyzed for FA content, and the children performed a battery of cognitive function tests that were age appropriate, including the dimensional change card sort (DCCS).

Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry1-2

Researchers examined which higher levels of essential fatty acids (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were associated with better cognitive performance and found that the average Omega-3 Index (red blood cell EPA + DHA level) in this group was 4.6%, with a range of 2.3% to 11.7%.

1-2

Significant differences in mean percentage total whole-blood fatty acids were observed between children who could not follow directions on the DCCS test (50.2% of the sample) and those who could (49.8% of the sample). Positive associations with DCCS performance were observed for DHA (β=0.25, P=.06), total n-3 (β=0.17, P=.06) and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA; β=0.60, P=.06).

1

Children with the highest levels of total omega-3s and DHA were 3 and 4 times, respectively, more likely to pass at least 1 condition of the DCCS test of executive function than those with the lowest levels.

1-2

Bill Harris, a study author, co-inventor of the Omega-3 index test, and founder of the OmegaQuant independent lab, said the results are encouraging for children.

2

“We were happy to see the positive correlation betweenomega-3levels and better brain function, especially since an omega-3 deficiency is so easy to correct,” said Harris, in a prepared statement.

“All it requires is consuming more of the right omega-3s, especially DHA which in this case was the standout fatty acid here."

2

Researchers concluded that the study findings also provided an "impetus for further studies into possible interventions to improve essential fatty acid status of children in developing countries."

2

"Children in developing countries like Ghana do not have the access to omega-3-rich sources that children from other parts of the world do. This has several ramifications, particularly in the area of brain development and cognitive function,” said Harris, in a prepared statement.

2

This article was originally published atPharmacyTimes.com.

References

  1. Adjepong M, Yakah W, Harris WS, Annan RA, Pontifex MB, Fenton JI. Whole blood n-3 fatty acids are associated with executive function in 2-6-year-old northern ghanaian children.The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2018;57:287-293
  2. Higher omega-3 index associated with better brain function in children [news release]. August 13, 2018. OmegaQuant.https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-08/wom-hoi081318.php. Accessed October 10, 2018.

Related Content