The fatty acids DHA and EPA found in fish oil may do far more than prevent heart disease and enhance immune systems. A groundbreaking new study out of Oxford University in the UK makes a strong correlation between low levels of omega-3 and problems with reading and focus in kids. The study took blood samples from just under 500 British school children, aged 7-8 who were reported to be below grade level in reading. The researchers found astonishingly low levels of the important long chain omega-3 fatty acids vital to brain structure and memory in nearly all the children. And the blood levels of the long chain omega-3, DHA, directly predicted how well the young students were able to focus and learn.
DHA and EPA are found primarily in seafood and must be taken in consistently through diet. In the UK, the dietary guidelines for children include consuming fish three times a week. Most of the slow readers in the study ate fish less than twice a week and ten per cent of them didn’t eat fish at all.
If parents are concerned about mercury levels in today’s harvested seafood, then a supplement should be given to children. To avoid the sour faces and turned up noses associated with the fishy taste, try your local health food store in the refrigerator section for flavored liquid fish oil.
The Sound of Music was a movie beyond it’s tine. Linking baby mozart to math skills may not have held up to research scrutiny but there is new promise that music can do something else for kids: Make them behave better and solve problems.
Researchers from the University of West London School of Psychology examined how music made young children, aged four, more helpful and sociable. Dr. Maddie Ohl, Dr. Anne Manyande and undergraduate student, Rie Davies split 24 girls and 24 boys into two groups, ‘Music’ and ‘No Music’. Children in the ‘No Music’ Group listened to a story, while children in the ‘Music’ Group sang and played small percussion instruments. After the sessions, the children were tested for problem solving abilities with a ‘Helping’ game. The results found that children who were in the ‘Music’ group, boys and girls, were more helpful than children in the ‘No Music’ Group; they were 30 times more likely to help than their music-less counterparts. Results also showed, girls were greater than 20 times more likely to help than boys of the ‘Music’ Group. The ‘No Music’ Group also showed less co-operation than the ‘Music’ group, whose co-operation was six times greater than their counterparts. Girls excelled again, and demonstrated more co-operation than boys. But when it came to problem solving boys in the ‘Music’ Group were four times more likely to problem solve than their peers.
The results of this study show that pre-schooler music class isn’t a useless endeavor forced on kids by uber mommies. And the researchers suggest that even singing can be highly beneficial. So, belt it out babies!