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

Kristen Coppock, MA, Editor
Published Online: Monday, October 22nd, 2018
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 Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 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).1-2

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 between omega-3 levels and better brain function, especially since an omega-3 deficiency is so easy to correct,” said Harris, in a prepared statement.2 “All it requires is consuming more of the right omega-3s, especially DHA which in this case was the standout fatty acid here."

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 at PharmacyTimes.com.

  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.

Current Issue

The Educated Patient

Jennifer L. Hofmann, MS, PA-C
Providing them with advice can improve control of the disease and reduce hospitalizations, morbidity, and unscheduled health care visits.
Emily C. Hayes, PharmD Candidate
Colds, coughs, and a relentless influx of sick patients in retail health clinics keep the health care providers who work there very busy.
Kristen Marjama, DNP, APRN-BC
Although the rate of foot and leg amputation has greatly declined over the past 2 decades, increasing awareness for macrovascular and microvascular complications of diabetes is essential because diabetes is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations in the United States.
Kristen Marjama, DNP, FNP-BC
Gluten proteins found in barley, rye, and wheat trigger systemic injury primarily to the small intestine, but they can also affect the joints, liver, skin, uterus, and other organs.
$vacMongoViewPlus$ $vAR$
Contemporary Clinic
MJH Associates
American Journal of Managed Care
MD Magazine
Pharmacy Times
Specialty Pharmacy Times
Targeted Oncology
About Us
Contact Us
Terms & Conditions
Pharmacy Healthcare & Communications, LLC
2 Clarke Drive
Suite 100
Cranbury, NJ 08512
P: 609-716-7777
F: 609-257-0701

Copyright Contemporary Clinic 2018
Pharmacy Healthcare & Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.