New meta analysis, published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, shows that supplementing with omega 3 fish oils during pregnancy and early childhood can help to boost IQ scores. Researchers at the New York University, USA, compiled the findings from previous studies and discovered that supplementation can boost a child’s IQ by more than 3.5 points.
The goal of the meta analysis was to understand the nature of intelligence and how it can be nurtured at every stage of development. Participants in the studies included pregnant mothers and children under the age of five. Findings showed that children who had received higher levels of essential fatty acids, either during pregnancy or early childhood, had higher IQ scores than children who had not.
Experts now believe that fish oils may be one of the most effective methods to help boost children’s intelligence and performance at school. The meta analysis also found that enrolling children in a good quality pre-school and engaging them in interactive reading could further help to boost children’s IQ.
Essential fatty acids and brain development
The human brain has a growth spurt during the last trimester of pregnancy through the first few years of life. This period of rapid growth requires large amounts of essential fatty acids to support the building of brain tissues and for healthy brain development. Research suggests that that these fatty acids are the building blocks for nerve cell development and are essential for optimal brain growth and function.
The body can not produce essential fatty acids, and so they must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Experts suggest that this is particularly important during pregnancy, breast feeding and early childhood.
Other studies have previously shown that fish oils may also help children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, ADHD and dyspraxia. These studies have indicated significant improvements in children’s reading, writing and numeracy skills after supplementing with fish oils for sustained periods.
Recommended levels during pregnancy & childhood
Children are recommended to take between 500mg and 1000mg of fish oils daily to support healthy development. During pregnancy a daily dose between 1000mg and 2000mg is recommended to support both mother and baby. Women are advised to avoid cod liver oil during pregnancy, as this contains vitamin A which can be harmful to an unborn baby.
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