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Posted on Mon, 17 Nov 14

Omega-3 improves behavior in children, and their parents

A study has found important improvements in child behavioral problems after fish oil supplements, but perhaps not in the way you would expect.

The study found that improvement in parental behavior accounted for about 60.9% of the improvement in child behavior, although the parents did not even take the fish oils.

In the study, two hundred children aged 8-16 years received 1,000 mg of omega 3 daily (300 mg DHA, 200 mg EPA, 400 mg ALA, and 100 mg of DPA) for 6-months and were reviewed at 6-months post treatment.

Omega-3 supplementation resulted in a 41.6% reduction in parent-rated child externalizing behavior (including aggressive, and rule breaking behavior) half-a-year after treatment ended. Similarly a 68.4% reduction was observed for internalizing behavior (including social withdrawal, feelings of anxiety and depression).

Interestingly, improvements in parental behavior appeared to account for 60.9% of the improvement in child antisocial behavior. So it appears that not only does omega-3 improve behavior in children, it indirectly improves the emotional health of parents which further improves the health of the children.

Commenting on their findings the investigators said that; “To our knowledge, this is the first study to document support for the longer-term post treatment efficacy of omega-3 in reducing child and adolescent externalizing and internalizing behavior, and to document reduced antisocial behavior in caregivers.”


  1. Raine A, Portnoy J, Liu J, Mahoomed T, Hibbeln JR. Reduction in behavior problems with omega-3 supplementation in children aged 8-16 years: a randomized,  double-blind, placebo-controlled, stratified, parallel-group trial. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2014 Aug 22. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12314. [Epub ahead of print]

Tags: Fish Oil, Omega 3, Brain Health, Anxiety, Depression

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