SFI Health
Are fish oils the secret to increasing children's stamina in school?

Are fish oils the secret to increasing children's stamina in school?

An Ofsted report into the impact of the pandemic on school children found concerning levels of regression in reading, writing, and learning stamina.

Lifestyle insight
Reading time: 5 minutes

Older children are now lacking “stamina” in reading and writing whilst youngsters have started using nappies again and forgotten how to eat with a knife and fork, according to the latest school reports from Ofsted into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Nearly all primary school leaders said that they were prioritising reading and improving fluency, comprehension and reading accuracy in children after seeing a decline. Others were focused too on pupils’ writing, including their ‘stamina’ when writing at length. 

With studies showing Omega-3 fish oils improve brain function, concentration and behaviour, experts believe increased consumption of oily fish and supplements could improve children’s stamina in the classroom. 

Some unique Omega-3 formulations have even been proven to specifically support children’s reading ability. 

A clinician-led year-long trial* of Omega-3 brain health supplement Equazen lifted reading scores in mainstream children aged between nine and 10 across four key points. 

It found phonological decoding was 10 per cent faster in those children who took the supplement and phonological decoding time per word saw twice the improvement compared to children taking a placebo. 

64 per cent had an improvement in reading comprehension and their visual analysis was up by 8 per cent. 

Dr Tony Lloyd, a child psychotherapist specialising in the education setting said: “The long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, help to improve children’s mood, attention and behaviour, so they are crucial for learning. DHA is essential for growth and functional development of the brain and has been known to help reaction time and sustain attention. 

“Our brains are 60 per cent fat and the fattiest organ in the body. We must maintain our levels of omega-3 and omega-6 through diet and supplementation for optimum brain health and this is especially true in children as their brains are still growing all the way up to adulthood. Taking a daily supplement such as Equazen can really help improve a child’s stamina and focus, especially during tough times like this.” 

Previous studies have also found that poor reading and behavioural problems are intertwined** 

With a recommended daily intake of 250mg of DHA for children and adults it is almost impossible to get the required amount from diet alone, even if you eat two portions of fish a week. It’s especially tricky in children who don’t like the taste of oily fish such as mackerel and sardines. 

Roz Kadir leading nutritionist and advisor to omega supplement Equazen said: “Parents have been well educated about feeding their children five-a-day but there isn’t the same awareness of the importance of omega and fish oils. We all know oily fish is good for our general health but not how crucial it can be to children’s learning and development.

We require certain quantities of these fatty acids and it’s difficult to get the required amount through diet alone. A good, varied diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one from oily fish. It’s estimated three quarters of us don’t reach the required amount of Omega-3 and 6 with children eating just 13 to 29g of oily fish per week as opposed to the recommended amount of two 140g portions. Families can therefore use supplements to easily bridge any nutritional gaps, just as we do with multivitamins.  

“As children can be being fussy eaters, especially with stronger smelling foods such as oily fish, a supplement such as Equazen which have the fishy taste and odour removed is a great way to ensure your children have an adequate intake. They have a range for the whole family, including capsules, chews and flavoured liquid that children can enjoy. This can also be added to smoothies or yogurt”.


What is DHA and EPA?

There are three types of Omega:

  • Omega-3 DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is found in oily fish and seafood, which makes up around 40% of the healthy fats found in the brain. 
  • Omega-3 EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) is also found in oily fish and seafood and plays an important role in mood and behaviour.
  • Omega-3 ALA (Alpha-linolenic Acid) is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils.


* Efficacy and Safety of Omega-3/6 Fatty Acids, Methylphenidate, and a Combined Treatment in Children With ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders. Pre-published January 24, 2014, http://jad.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/01/24/1087054713518239.abstract. Placebo controlled trial with 154 children aged 9-10 shows Equazen lifts reading scores in mainstream children with no learning or behavioural challenges

** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4422059/

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