Dr. L. Lee Coyne
Nutrition Consulting
Dr. Lee, the Healthy Professor

Omega-3, Omega-6 Fatty Acids Enhance Reading Skills In Children

Omega 3 Just this month a Swedish study reported that there are positive effects of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in children with inattention and reading difficulties. The intake of fatty acids could improve their reading skills. The study was reported in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

The authors explained the cell membranes in the brain are largely made up of polyunsaturated fats. Some studies suggest that fatty acids are significant for signal transmission between nerve cells and the regulation of signaling systems in the brain.

They tested 154 grade 3 students (ages 9-10) by measuring the reading speed, vocabulary and the ability to read nonsense words.

Half the children were assigned Omega 3 and 6 capsules. Omega 3’s were 558 mg EPA, 174 mg DHA. The Omega 6 was 60 mg GLA – a relatively low dose of GLA.

The other half of the children consumed identical looking placebo capsules.

It was a true double blinded and randomized control designed study with a 3 month initial phase. It was followed by another 3 month phase where all students received “active” treatment (no more placebos).


Mats Johnson, the lead author, said that even after 3 months, they could see the improvement of reading skills of the children compared with those who received the placebo. He further said that this was evident in the ability to read a nonsense word aloud and pronounce a series of letters quickly.

The actual author’s conclusions

Compared with placebo, 3 months of treatment with Omega 3/6 improved reading ability in mainstream schoolchildren, as measured with the Logos test, most consistently the subtests ‘phonologic decoding time’ and ‘visual analysis time’. 

In children with ADHD symptom scores above the median, signi´Čücant improvements with active treatment versus placebo were seen on several cognitive parameters measured, suggesting that especially children with attention problems show scope for improvement with Omega 3/6. No significant results were found on parent-rated outcomes.


1. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;58(1):83-93. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12614 

2.  Science World Report


Dr. L. Lee Coyne

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