Extra Omega-3s for young children significantly reduced depression and antisocial behavior, and even criminal behavior years later. I'd read a British study in which Omega-3 supplements improved the academic performance of some children, but this surprised me.
Summary: Omega-3, a fatty acid commonly found in fish oil, may have long-term neurodevelopmental effects that ultimately reduce antisocial and aggressive behavior problems in children, a new study suggests.
When Raine was a graduate student, he, his advisor and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study of children in the small island nation of Mauritius. The researchers tracked the development of children who had participated in an enrichment program as 3-year-olds and also the development of children who had not participated. This enrichment program had additional cognitive stimulation, physical exercise and nutritional enrichment. At 11 years, the participants showed a marked improvement in brain function as measured by EEG, as compared to the non participants. At 23, they showed a 34 percent reduction in criminal behavior.
A new study by Raine now suggests that omega-3, a fatty acid commonly found in fish oil, may have long-term neurodevelopmental effects that ultimately reduce antisocial and aggressive behavior problems in children.
"We saw children who had poor nutritional status at age 3 were more antisocial and aggressive at 8, 11 and 17," Raine said. "That made us look back at the intervention and see what stood out about the nutritional component. Part of the enrichment was that the children receiving an extra two and a half portions of fish a week."
Raine's new study featured a randomized controlled trial where children would receive regular omega-3 supplements in the form of a juice drink. One hundred children, aged 8 to 16, would each receive a drink containing a gram of omega-3 once a day for six months, matched with 100 children who received the same drink without the supplement.
The assessments had parents rate their children on "externalizing" aggressive and antisocial behavior, such as getting into fights or lying, as well as "internalizing" behavior, such as depression, anxiety and withdrawal.
... at 12 months .... we saw a 42 percent reduction in scores on externalizing behavior and 62 percent reduction in internalizing behavior."