DHA Helps Children in School
The National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP reported that many students in the United States experience difficulty in reading, which is supposedly the most basic and essential skill needed to become a successful student. According to the NAEP, more than 1/3 of the toal population of the fourth-grade public school students cannot read at this point, and only 1/3 of the total population can be considered proficient at such skill.
Algal DHA, otherwise known as the docosahexaenoicacid was shown to have helped improved the performances and behavior of children in school as they increased their intake of the said acid. This was clinically proven by the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom as they did their research on the effect of algal DHA on average school-aged children that had demonstrated low reading skills and inferior performances at school. In addition, the study showed that incorporating DHA into children’s diet is an effective way to enhance the school performance of children who had been doing quite poorly performing over the past years.
As some of you may already know, DHA is a saturated omega-3 fatty acid that is found all throughout the human body. It comprises 97% of the omega-3 fats found in the brain. There had been a lot of studies that proved the efficiency of DHA, and the need of humans, both children and adults to have an ample intake of this as it is known to help the health and development of brain.
According to the lead investigator and senior research at the University of Oxford, Alex Richardson Ph.D., a child who has poor reading skills is at the risk of facing bigger problems as they journey through adulthood. Richardson is also the director of FAB (Food and Behavior Research. “The DOLAB (DHA Oxford Learning and Behavior trial indicated that regular intake of algal DHA supplements helped improve the reading abilities of even the poorest readers among the pupils and had even helped these children somehow get into the reading performance level of their co-students”, Richardson added.
The said results were published in PLos ONE journal last September 6th. The trial from DOLAB conducted at the University of Oxford was supported and funded by DSM Nutritional Products. It made use of DSM’s algal DHA Omega-3 as treatment for the said problem among school-aged children.
The DOLAB trial was an independent study conducted with the aim to determine the efficiency of DHA Omega-3 in improving reading skills, memory and behavior among healthy, yet poorly performing school-aged children. The study was conducted on 362 children aged 7-9 years old from the majority of the schools in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. These children were said to have been underperforming in terms of their reading skills. The target group was not undergoing any medication for ADHD.
The active treatment intervention was a dose of 600mg DHA from algal oil, taken thrice a day, with each capsule containing 200 mg of DHA. On the other hand, the placebo treatment was a dose of 500 mg capsules three times a day. The placebo treatment contained corn/soybean oil that has the same taste and color with the active treatment. The capsules were brought to the patients through the school and even their houses at times. The treatment lasted for a total of 4 months.
At the end of the study, although there was no big improvement observed among the general population of the lower 33% of the target, there were improvements observed among the lower 20% who scored low in the literacy skills assessment by the British Ability Scales. In addition to this, it had also been observed that the algal DHA improved the symptoms of ADHD as reported by the children’s parents.
The public has yet more to learn from DOLAB as following this positive result is a follow up study to be conducted on a larger target number of children who belong to the lower 20% in terms of reading skills.