Omega-3 & 6 Supplement Lifts Reading Scores Amongst Children By 64 Percent

Omega-3 & 6 Supplement Lifts Reading Scores Amongst Children By 64 Percent
Omega-3 & 6 Supplement Lifts Reading Scores Amongst Children By 64 Percent

Children given an Omega-3 & 6 supplement show significant improvement in reading ability in just three months.

A randomised control clinical trial (RCT) by scientists at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden is the first to confirm that Omega-3/6 supplementation benefits children in mainstream school, not just those with behavioural or learning difficulties

Children given Equazen demonstrated a five times improvement in decoding nonsense words and 8% better visual analysis in comparison to a placebo group receiving a dummy pill

The clinical study is being showcased just before the Education Show at NEC Birmingham along with new UK research that shows 84% of children sometimes struggle with homework, with 54% of parents saying children today are under more pressure to perform academically

Encouraging more children to supplement their diet with omega-3/6 could be the key to boosting reading ability, according to new RCT study by scientists at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden. The clinical study is the first to confirm that omega-3/6 supplementation with Equazen will benefit all children, and not just those with behavioural or learning difficulties.


As part of the research study, the reading ability of 154 children who were split into two equally matched groups were assessed with half receiving Equazen and the other half receiving a placebo (dummy pill). Those receiving the supplement showed 64 per cent greater improvement in reading than the placebo group. The time they took to decode nonsense words showed five times the improvement of the control group and their visual analysis was 8 per cent ahead.

The results revealed a significant learning gap between the children taking the supplement and those receiving the dummy pill, with those who had taken the Omega-3/6 supplement (Equazen) experiencing major improvements in reading in just three months. In particular, children with attention issues showed treatment benefits.

The clinical study holds substantial value in the UK where a new survey finds that four out of five (84 per cent) children sometimes struggle with their homework putting families under intense pressure.

With over half of parents admitting their children are under more pressure to perform academically and are being tested more frequently than they ever were, Omega-3 supplementation has a significant potential to help relieve both parents and children of some of the homework stress.

Additionally, the survey has found that fewer than half (44%) of the children in this latest research survey read a book before bedtime and when they do read, attention spans are short.

On average, children concentrate on a book for just 30 minutes and one in eight (13%) can manage no more than 10 minutes. Only 13% are happy to read for an hour or more. This is in stark contrast to the time they can spend at a screen. On average, they can concentrate on their favourite computer game for 53 minutes — almost twice the time they will happily spend with a book. Similarly, just over a quarter (27%) can concentrate on a computer game for an hour or more, compared to a mere 13% who will focus on a book for that time.

So why is that the case? Dr. Hilary Jones joins us to discuss.

Patient Talk:- Can you tell us about the fatty supplements and why they are needed in our diets?

Dr Hilary Jones:- Essential fatty acids are essential for human health and we can’t make them in our bodies so we have to get them from our diet and they’re particularly important in terms of brain function and heart health. For example a growing baby, in the last trimester of pregnancy and until the first year of life, the brain is growing by 260%. 60% of the brain is fat, a high proportion of that is DHA, one of the Omega 3 fatty acids. So it’s essential the babies in the womb and mothers are provided with sufficient quantities of essential fatty acids in their diet and we know from a growing body of evidence that its importance, not just in cognitive function in childhood and as we grow older, it is important in protecting the heart against a number of disorders.

Patient Talk:- How the research conducted and what was were the main results from it?

Dr Hilary Jones:- Well this particular research was conducted on Ecquazen, a supplement with Omega 3 and 6 a particular ratio by weight, so a 9:3:1 ratio. The research on this supplement showed that in a randomised controlled clinical trial by the University of Gothemburg in Sweden, that they were able to increase reading comprehension scores by 64%, in just three months of taking the supplements. What they did was they divided the children into two groups; one group who took the supplements for three months and the other group who just took a placebo. The doctors were double blinded, they didn’t know what the children were taking and they got these significant results. Furthermore, they then swapped the groups around so the children taking the placebo group, took the supplement and they too, showed a significant improvement in reading comprehension, so it was a very well designed study and it’s been peer reviewed and published and its very convincing evidence, after a long line of other research suggesting that it’s not just children with diagnosed learning difficulties but mainstream children with no identifiable problems that can benefit in terms of reading and cognitive skills.

Patient Talk:- What are the best sources of Omega 3 and 6 that occur naturally?

Dr Hilary Jones:- Well, by far the best source is oily fish. Fish like herring, salmon, tuna, mackerel, pilchards, sardines and unfortunately it is difficult to get children to enjoy those foods and even amongst adults, particularly the UK, the US and other developed countries in the world, we know that many, many people, probably more than 95% are deficient in adequate levels of Omega 3.

Patient Talk:- Now are dietary supplements a good or bad idea for children, compared to a diet?

Dr Hilary Jones:- In an ideal world, you would get everything you need from a healthy, well balanced diet, but we don’t live in that ideal world. It is difficult to get affordable, plentiful oily fish, even if you can get children to eat it, so sometimes it is worth looking at supplements, provided they’re from a good sustainable source and they’re researched, they come from a reputable company and what you get on the tin, is exactly what it says it contains and you know it’s safe, then I think something you take (unclear wording) is very well worthwhile, particularly when we know from a survey carried out by Equazen, so many parents are worried about whether their children are getting the stimulation they need to maximise their education and maximise their concentration and reading skills. Even with good tuition, one in ten people in parts of the UK are paying for private tuition on top of their school education so clearly there is a worry that we are not doing what we can currently to maximise our children’s potential.

Patient Talk:- Now are there any risks associated with too much omega 3 and 6 in a diet?

Dr Hilary Jones:- No, you’d have to take very huge quantities, to even remotely come anywhere near causing side effects and I certainly have never met a patient that developed side effects as a result of taking too many Omega 3’s.

Ground-breaking new study finds clear nutritional differences between organic and non-organic milk and meat

Tim Field of Daylesford
Tim Field of Daylesford

A new study published today in the British Journal of Nutrition shows organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic.  In addition to organic milk and meat, the nutritional differences also apply to organic dairy like butter, cream, cheese and yoghurt. The study is the largest systematic reviews of its kind and led by Newcastle University and an international team of experts.
Key findings:

  • Both organic milk (dairy) and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products
  • Organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats linked to heart disease
  • Organic milk and dairy contains 40% more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – CLA has been linked to a range of health benefits including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and obesity, but evidence is mainly from animal studies
  • Organic milk and dairy contains slightly higher concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids
  • Organic milk contains less iodine than non-organic milk

Joining us to explain why the research and its findings are so significant is Environmental Scientist, Tim Field from Daylesford (an Organic Farm in Gloucestershire).

Patient Talk – So what does Organic actually mean and how would it apply to live

stock and dairy?

Field – Organic is a way of farming, is a way producing food and eating, Organic is actually set in European regulations so that there is a law that determines what is actually organic and what is not and in essence the philosophy of organic is that you are farming or producing food within nature rather than artificially pushing the limits within the environment with lots of artificial inputs, so its farming with nature and as a result you have got a more natural product coming out of the other end. The way it applies to live stock and dairy is one of the same thing, dairy cattle, beef cattle, sheep and so on they are ruminants and they turn grass and forage into milk and or muscle very effectively, they are used to grazing the plains of wherever they might of come from and turning that into energy and so an organic system utilises that rumen of the ruminant and turns that grass and the clover into milk and meat, whereas in an non organic system there is the capacity that for lots of high energy and high protein feeds like maize or soya so be feeding the cattle or the sheep or live stock to produce that milk and protein and that is less natural than to the way it would of evolved originally.

Patient Talk – Ok and what are the nutritional differences between organic and non-organic produce?

Field – Well the outstanding nutritional difference that we see form this landmark report is the 47% omega 3  fatty acids in the meat and dairy and 40% more Conjugated acid in the dairy so that is significant difference between organic and non-organic and that is head line stuff and that is actually proving what we at Daylesford . We believe there is a difference, there is a difference in taste and that transpires into nutritional value as well.

Patient Talk – And how would a scientist account for the difference?

Field – So the difference here is that organic regulations is that you have to produce dairy and livestock with a lot of pasture , with a lot of grass and clover in their diet and it is actually the clover that they believe is accountable for this increased omega 3 fatty acid so this sort of free range to graze, a natural diet is where the benefits are seen.

Patient Talk – And could you tell us a bit about the research, how is was conducted, what were the results and are there other studies which various out the results?

Field  – So the research was conducted by a team up in Newcastle University and a broad range of international scientists headed up by Professor Carlo Leifert and what they did was they took all the research that had been done, analysing the difference between organic and non-organic, all that different research and different reports from across the world and they have done some very cleaver statistics to work out what the overall difference is in a nut shell between organic and non-organic and they have come out with all sorts of different nutritional findings and the overall way to explain is more of the good stuff and less of the bad, so as I mentioned the key headline figure is 47% more omega 3 fatty acids and more linolenic acid as well.

Patient Talk – And what medical conditions might benefit from organic produce?

Field – Well there is increasing evidence to suggest that more of the omega 3 fatty acids and potentially less of the omega 6 fatty acids, so if you get a better ratio rather than dominant omega 6 in the diet, if there is a better balance of that there is beneficial implications on cardiovascular disease prevention, some cancers and dementia. There is still a lot of   work being done in that area but that is the main benefits and increasingly in western diets we have been pushing up the amount of omega 6 fatty acid and reducing our intake of oily fish like sardines, mackerel and salmon and they are a great source of omega 3 fatty acid. So if you can get more omega 3 in your milk, beef, chicken, lamb and pork that is a good way of compensating to some degree the lack of oily fish that we are getting in our diets.

Patient Talk –  Do they fit into the paleo diet and how does the paleo diet work?

Field  – That is a very good question and I am not an advisor on nutrition parse but ,my understanding of a paleo diet is that  it is a lot less processed food, there is less meat in it, fish comes before meat in that pecking order and there is a lot of fruit and vegetables and less cereals as well. Paleo is as it suggests ‘ancient, this is what our ancestors the caveman would of run around eating ‘so how this fits into the paleo diet, it fits in like a glove its very interesting so if you look at game, venison, wild game and pigeon they have a much higher omega 3 fatty acid level and that is because they are roaming, they are grazing and brazing all these different herbs and grasses and seeds and so on , and that’s how it fits in with this more natural way of rearing beef, lamb and dairy and so on. So it fits in very nicely but what’s interesting is that I heard Carlo say earlier was that this is about getting the same amount of calories, you’re eating the same amount of calories but you are getting a much bigger bang for your buck in your calories so you are getting more nutritional benefit from the same calorie intake which for my mind in the diet that works pretty well.

Patient Talk – Why is organic more expensive?

Field  – Well that is a very interesting question and I would argue that actually organic is cheaper when you factor in the broad spectrum of benefits and adverse implications of the food system so on the shelf there are plenty of examples out there where organic is a bit more expensive, there are actually examples of where organic is cheaper if you are buying direct form a producer, I know that the dale organic strawberries or bagged salads, they are all sort of examples where we are very competitive with some of the supermarket conventional brands and so yes there’s a little bit of disparity in some cases. But actually when you start looking at the way organic farming is done, it’s a sort of self-sufficient model, you’re trying to use the natural energy, the sunlight, and so on, your soils, and your natural ecology on your farm to produce the food, and so you don’t waste anything and you’re not bringing lots of inputs in. that in itself is quite a good model because you’re not paying lots of money out to buy in things. But also you’re not wasting through pollution, through degradation of the soils, through excessive nitrogen into the crops and pesticides and so on. You’re not bringing in all those inputs you’ve got to pay only to watch them wash away into the rivers an cause flooding, cause the water companies to have to treat their water even more. So conventional practices don’t always factor in the knock on cost to the consumer, whether that’s insurance premiums, whether it’s the NHS bill, or whether it’s the risk to antibiotics from over using antibiotics in livestock systems were not factoring those costs. So I would argue that actually if you factored all the costs in, that organic to that average citizen is less expensive.

Patient Talk –  And Tim, do you think it will really take off?

Field  – I really strongly believe that it does and it will and it is taking off. This is high street stuff now, this is no longer left to the niche shops and the hippies, this is mainstream. And a lot of people are going for dairy and eggs and chicken for organic because they strongly believe that the welfare is better in the organic system and that is categorically true. And so it really is beginning to take off, but I should say that we shouldn’t be polarizing organic and non-organic because there’s an awful lot lot of very good non organic farmers out there, particularly in the UK where we’ve got very good grass and a very natural environment for producing red meat and good dairy. So there’s a lot of conventional farmers out there that are adopting a lot of organic practices but perhaps haven’t gone that final mile to get certification from the likes of the soil association but as the demand for organic grows, because people recognize the health benefits and so on, I think we’ll see this little rush of farmers, getting that premium for their produce. And actually it’s a much more stable farming economy where you’re reducing your inputs and getting a little bit of a premium from your product.

Patient Talk –  Okay and Tim, do you have anywhere people can go for more information at all, a website?

Field  – Absolutely, there’s some great places to find out more. Daylesford Organic has a very interesting website that’s got a lot about the way that we produce organic food, that’s venison, that’s lamb, that’s chickens, that’s laying hens, organic fruit and vegetables as well and the soil association have some very interesting sound bites from this report that they’ve condensed into a little summary and then the Newcastle University also have the full report on their website for those more academics of us.