September 19, 2003
Omega 3 Fatty Acid DHA Boosts Baby Intelligence

In the January 2003 issue of Pediatrics researchers from the Institute for Nutrition Research of the University of Oslo in Norway reported supplementation with omega 3 fatty acid DocosaHexaenoic Acid (DHA) boosted the intelligence of infants.

We received dietary information from 76 infants (41 in the cod liver oil group and 35 in the corn oil group), documenting that all of them were breastfed at 3 months of age. Children who were born to mothers who had taken cod liver oil (n = 48) during pregnancy and lactation scored higher on the Mental Processing Composite of the K-ABC at 4 years of age as compared with children whose mothers had taken corn oil (n = 36; 106.4 [7.4] vs 102.3 [11.3]). The Mental Processing Composite score correlated significantly with head circumference at birth (r = 0.23), but no relation was found with birth weight or gestational length. The children's mental processing scores at 4 years of age correlated significantly with maternal intake of DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid during pregnancy. In a multiple regression model, maternal intake of DHA during pregnancy was the only variable of statistical significance for the children's mental processing scores at 4 years of age. CONCLUSION: Maternal intake of very-long-chain n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy and lactation may be favorable for later mental development of children.

This result supports a previous report arguing for a link between breast-feeding as a source of DHA and intelligence.

The importance of omega-3 fatty acids for brain development is getting a lot of support from a variety of quarters. A just announced study by USC psychology professor Adrian Raine and colleagues found that supplementing the diets of poor children in Mauritania with higher quality food including fish for omega-3 fatty acids reduced their rate of commission of crimes when they got older.

The research, published in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry, involved 100 Mauritian children and a group of around 350 control subjects not put through the programme. EEGs - scans of brain electrical activity - at the age of 11 found heightened activity compared to their peers: they were less likely to have criminal records and 35 per cent less likely to report having engaged in some criminal activity and got away with it.

The most striking effects were observed in those most malnourished when they started the programme, Raine said, suggesting that the diet - unusually rich in fish - could be the crucial element.

Raine thinks the omega-3 fatty acids may be responsible for the difference in behavior. Note that he also foresees a day when surgery might be used to correct prefrontal lobe defects that prevent people from controlling their impulses that cause them to commit crime!

Raine also says that we can't ignore biological and genetic causes of mental illness.

Raine cautioned, however, that there does appear to be a strong genetic component to schizophrenia that shouldn't be discounted. "Pushing biology and genetic issues under the carpet isn't going to help society in the long run," he said. The good nutrition and educational programs early in life might at least delay the onset of mental illness in some people, he added.

Raine was involved in earlier research that found less grey matter in the prefrontal lobes of violent criminals.

Researchers writing in this monthís Archives of General Psychiatry have found that men with antisocial personality disorder, a condition characterized by violence and criminal behavior, have 11 percent less gray matter than normal men in a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal lobe is seen as essential for behavior control for three main reasons.

Firstly, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for self-restraint and deliberate foresight. If this part of the brain was damaged, then one effect that would arise would be the tendency for one to act on all his impulses without thinking ahead or thinking of the consequences. Second, the prefrontal cortex is important for learning conditioned responses. This area of the brain has been thought to be central to a child's ability to learn to feel remorse, conscience, and social sensitivity (7). If the prefrontal cortex was to function abnormally, how is the child supposed to learn how to have a conscience? For example, one study reported that children who received damage to their prefrontal cortex before the age of seven developed abnormal social behavior, which was characterized by their inability to control their aggression and anger (2). Lastly, Raine suggests that if prefrontal deficits underlie the APD group's low levels of autonomic arousal, these people may unconsciously be trying to compensate through stimulation-seeking (5).

So does a diet deficient in omega-3 fatty acids lead to poor development of the prefrontal lobe and hence to both lower intelligence and more criminality?

The results about the Mauritanian children follow on the heals of another recent study that found improving the nutrition of prisoners decreased prison violence.

A few months ago, C. Bernard Gesch of Oxford University and coworkers reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry that vitamin-mineral-essential fatty acid supplements appeared capable of dampening violence in a prison population (Psychiatric News, October 2, 2002). However, J.S. Zil, M.D., J.D., chief forensic psychiatrist of the State of California Department of Corrections, told Psychiatric News that he was skeptical of their results. To which Gesch replied: "I donít feel that Dr. Zilís cynicism is a problem. Itís only natural to be cautious about such provocative findings."

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 September 19 12:23 PM  Brain Enhancement

DR. Steven Melilli said at December 9, 2003 5:05 PM:

What dose of O3FA supplementation do you recommend for children and in what form?

andreas said at January 26, 2004 4:34 AM:

the effects of omega-3 in the development of the infant brain seem to rather clear. given this effect in infant brain development, what can be said about the effects of omega-3 on the functions of the adult brain? what can/should be expected from an increase in omega-3?
in other words, Should I expect to "be smarter" if I start eating it regularly?

Kim said at February 3, 2004 2:45 PM:

What dose of Omega 3 supplements do you recommend for children and what form?

Brie said at February 19, 2004 7:07 PM:

I REALLY need some information on: Omega 3 and what it is, where it's found, chemical structure, what it's used for, health related factors, other info that need to know.

Kristy Barnett said at February 20, 2004 11:25 AM:

What dose of Omega 3 supplements do you recommend for children and what form?

Dr. Atmabrian said at March 9, 2004 6:44 AM:

What dose of O3FA supplementation do you recommend for children and in what form?
what can be said about the effects of omega-3 on the functions of the adult brain?

JENNIFER NADER said at September 2, 2004 6:42 PM:



Jennifer Marshall said at November 2, 2004 4:58 PM:

I have a 21 month old boy and would like to give him omega -3's- How much would be safe?- he weighs 23lbs.

Wendy said at January 13, 2005 5:00 PM:

What's the different between omega-3 and DHA? I have a 2.5 year old boy, he has the seizure disorder which is not very well controlled by medications yet. I would like to give him omega-3 to help his brain development. He weighs 15.5kg. How much should I give him?
I am 14 weeks pregant. How much should I take the omega-3, and how much should I give to the new baby after he/she is born.

Susie said at June 13, 2005 7:12 PM:

I have a son who has been diagnosed with Autism. His weight is 34lbs. What is the correct dose & what form of the Omerga 3 would you suggest.

DADDY said at June 18, 2005 11:35 AM:

I have a very healthy 3.5 month old baby. What are the sources of natural omega-3 that is appropriate for his age (range)? Fish? What other brain foods can I give him. Thanks. God Bless!

Romans 10:1-4
1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

rhi said at August 19, 2005 6:54 AM:

I have a 13 month little girl , I would like to give her omega 3 , do you have a guide of dose per kg?

Sangeeta said at September 20, 2005 4:25 AM:

Dear Friend


I have 3 year 3month old son with autism.I read from the net that Omega 3 is good for kids with autism.I bought Salmon oil 1000mg Product no.4461 from a US nased company.But it is written in the bottle that not suitable for childern under age 18.I am little confused which product I should introduce to my kid and in what quantity.Is anybody have any information about this.Pls help.




Nancy Chapman said at October 12, 2005 7:03 AM:

I have a 12 yr. old son that has been diagnozed with bi-polar disorder and ocd and adhd and nothing that the Doctors have given him really never works but has a lot of side effects. What would you suggest about Omega 3 and any other natural vitamins that might help.
A very concerned and worried Mother

Billie said at April 9, 2006 9:26 AM:

I have a 6 year old grandson who has developed petit mal seizures, how much and what brand omega 3 would be good for him. He is not on any medication for the seizures because even though they are frequent they are mild in duration.

Katie said at November 21, 2006 10:38 AM:

A great place to learn about Omegas is your Chiropractor. I work in a chiropractor's office and the DC was able to give me lots of great information on Omegas. My son has ADHD, Asthma, Eczema and Allergies to about everything. Through adjustments, cold laser therapy, and supplements he is medication free and doing wonderfully in school.

A great Omega product for kids is Coromega. It looks like a ketchup packet and it tastes great. The pudding consistency is great for kids and allows for 3 times greater absorption than liquigels. My son, because of his issues, takes 2 packets at morning and night.

Talk with your chiropractors! I had never even been to one before starting this position and now regret the six years we wasted with medical doctors. A simple supplement regimen and chiropractic were what has helped my son the most!

M Leung said at January 21, 2007 11:07 PM:

What is the correct dose of Omega 3 for a 6months-old healthy baby?

Mark said at January 28, 2007 8:33 PM:

What is the correct for a 21 month old girl? 28 lbs

Cara said at March 2, 2007 9:01 AM:

Hi I have a 21 month old son and was wondering if 1) it is safe to give him omeaga 3 &
2) if so what is the amount I should give to him. Thanks

Maggie said at October 23, 2007 11:23 AM:

My son is 4 and on the autism spectrum. His developmental specialist mentioned to us today that he is behind the research on Omega 3 and autism. He explained that it is natural and the body will eliminate what is not being used but he didn't mention whether it would be an Omega 3 supp. or a DHA supp. I have had little success finding the answer online so far. Any suggestions?

Sherry said at October 31, 2007 9:07 PM:

Question, not comment. New great-granddaughter born 91/25/07 with the cord around her neck. She was 1 1/2 minutes without oxygen or heartbeat. We have been told that there is brain damage, but she is nursing and has been without seizures for 3 days. My question is this....Can omega 3's repair brain injury or help other brain cells to compensate for the damaged cells? If so, what would the details be, ie dosage, strength, etc. Thank you for any suggestions and help.......

Nina said at November 3, 2007 1:46 PM:

I have a month old boy now.Can you tell me how much daily DHA supplement I should give him and I do need to give him ARA supplement too? What is the limit DHA or ARA intake for an infant?

Thank you very much!


aaa said at November 8, 2007 7:52 PM:

recommend dosage by FDA is pure DHA (without EPA) 300mg for pregnant woman.

prashant said at December 8, 2007 8:24 AM:

my child is one month old can you please tell me how should i introduce omega 3 in his diet.
please guide me with the dosage as well

thanking you

Ian said at December 10, 2007 3:04 AM:

I'm the son of a violent criminal, presumably a man with low-functioning prefrontal. My personality as a child was aggressive and violent, and as a teen became it was depressive, neurotic, and anti-social. Around the age of twenty, I supplemented my diet with flax seeds, which are high in Omega 3s. In time, there was a glowing feeling in my forehead, which corresponded with an increased religiosity and moral consciousness. Further along, I found a meditation that exercised/developed the prefrontal region of my brain, which made the "glowing" permanent, like a muscle behind my forehead. I stumbled upon all these things quite accidentally, but, as an adult, I'm quite calm, contented, and well-behaved.

Interesting stuff.

sami daoud said at January 28, 2008 1:43 AM:

for my seven years son, what is the dosage and any side effect?

Gigi said at March 12, 2008 5:22 AM:

What dosage is correct for a 7 year old who weighs 65 lbs? Can he have it while on a low dose ADD medication?

mohammed samy daba said at March 30, 2008 4:08 PM:

i want the side effect of omega 3 fatty acids for children from 1 to 6 months age

Allison said at April 15, 2008 6:23 PM:

I began taking Carlson laboratories' cod liver oil (lemon flavor), 1 to 2 tsp a day, 4 weeks ago. I also give a tsp a day to my kids. I suffered a brain injury a few years back and when I moved from AZ to OR a couple years ago, that part of my head would hurt and throb and I began having psychotic symptoms.

Let me tell you, the cod liver oil is my new best friend, the best thing ever! I can feel my brain waking up, trying to heal itself. It has been hurting, but it's an awake kind of hurt, not a dead one like before. now the pain is subsiding and i feel calmer and clearer than ever. a lot of my irrational and very painful delusions and obsessions are subsiding a ton - I can almost live a normal life here in this rainy climate now!

I've heard from well-researched holistic pediatrician's that you should only take carlson labs or nordic naturals as those are the only 2 guaranteed to be free of mercury, lead, PCB's, and other contaminants.

I've recently discovered Vitamin B8, called inositol. It's said it can really help with bi-polar depression and OCD. Here's some info on it: it's great because it works as good as SSRI's but is NATURAL and has no side effects. here's one place you can buy it:

Hope that helps!

Thanks for all the info you shared.

Ossy said at August 24, 2008 12:54 AM:

I have 3 children (Nasya 13 yo, Nathania 11 yo, Rahees 3 weeks old).

I gave to all of my children DHA since the first month of pregnancy with dose of 900 mg - 1,100 mg of DHA (in form of omega 3 or DHA algae in powder) until the breastfeeding was ended. I gave them in form of capsule sold at pharmacies.

After they were born, we gave them DHA directly since the first 3 month old until their age of 5 yo in form of fish oil or Omega 3 with dose of around 500 mg/day (DHA around 100 mg - 200 mg). Plus the milk formula which contain DHA around 20 mg - 50 mg/day

So far after 13 years, there is no any harmful to my children. They are so healthy, strong, catch the flu but recover within 1-2 days. They are also smarter than the peers .....

For my last son, since the first of 2 week old, I gave him DHA in form of omega 3 or DHA algae (powder mixed inside the milk formula) around 200 mg of DHA every day .....

Giving the children with omega 3 is good for their body as well, as the EPA make the children body slim avoiding them from obesity.

That is my experience using DHA for the baby ...

john said at September 14, 2008 10:50 AM:

It is important not to disturb the blood balance. Omega 6 intake should be reduced. Omega 3 than Is more effective. The blood does not take more than needed and a balance disrupted by too much omega3 is also not good. The defence mechanism gets affected. Scientists are working hard to inform the public for the food industry. Be on your guard for results of scientists who are paid by the food industry.


rita said at June 11, 2009 6:57 PM:

i dont recommend omega 3 supplementation for infants. earliest addition should be 6 mos. most formulas are fortified w dha levels as in breast milk though breast is best for nutritional support and immunity boost as well as bonding. at 6 months to 4 years 100 mg daily is adequate and 200 mg can be tolerated. overdosing doesnt add benefits and no studies exist to show safety. but americans always think more must be better.

id try coromega orange one packet per day added to baby food or yogurt or even flax oil (converts to dha)which has added benefit of lignans and mild laxative effect. many baby foods and yogurt have dha added. high doses show no added benefit in controlled studies and an excess of dha can slow blood clotting. use it with sanity.

Jackie said at June 24, 2009 3:38 PM:

Hi, i have a 16 month old daughter.She is very healthy, weights 28 pounds and is 34" tall (a big girl for her age). What type of a dose should we be giving her (daily) of DHA and EPA? We also want to start giving her a pro-biotic, they should'nt interfere with one another should they? Thanks so much!


ProudMommy said at October 28, 2009 4:10 PM:

I have a 12 month old son who is 31 inches and 24-26 pounds. I would like to start giving him OMEGA 3-6-9 drops or some kind of omega 3-6-9 supplement is that okay because of his age ? and how much would i give him... thanks

mahlodi matenchi said at April 28, 2010 5:24 AM:

i have a 3month old baby girl and i would like to initiate omega 3 supplements,i'm worried that she might get hepatotoxicity from there any evidance that omega 3 supplements don't cause liver failure in the very young?

Petra Sambergerova said at April 30, 2010 3:10 PM:

I was recently introduced to product called Mila + The Miracle seed
Organic raw food, whitch is highest and safest combination of Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients of any source on the planet. It is non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) and pesticide-free!
Mila is gluten -free, trans-fat-free, sugar-free, high in fiber and protein, has no taste or smell and can be deliciously combined with may foods! Its supreme biological properties are not deminished by heat in the baking process, therefore making it easy to incorporate into your favorite recipes.
Mila is great for kids and adults(improves overall health abd well being)
Check more:
I had benefit from Mila already after 2 months; lowered my cholesterol by 30 points, have normal results of Bone density test after having osteopinia for years! I am happy! Eat less, Mila is filling.
My frien is giving it to her 1 year old baby girl who is not a very good eater nor sleeper and she had great results.
Her baby slept all night.

abdul kaleem said at June 14, 2010 5:47 AM:

I have a son 12 years old. who has been diagnosed with Autism. His weight is 50km. What is the correct dose what form of the High Lignan Flax Seed Oil Essential Omerga 3. would you suggest. Please hambaly request to you, as soon as possible.

juliet said at June 23, 2010 4:17 AM:

@Abdul Kaleem , are you in the Middles East? we have shipments of Chia grains- chosen to have the highest Omega 3's and optimum bioavailability. it raw whole food (seeds which underwent microslicing and not subjected to grinding).would you like to know more?-juliet -email

Chelsey Shope said at August 27, 2010 2:41 AM:

I have a 16 month old son who became O2 deprived after birth; the reason may be due to the high altitude in Colorado. He started turning blue in the middle of the night and after CONVINCING the Physician that he indeed was struggling and starting to have seizure activity, his O2 sats were checked and found to be in the mid 70%. He subsequently developed a "swallowing disorder" that causes him to still need to have nectar thick consistency in his bottle. He was subsequently on 24/7 O2 for 3 months. His comprehension is great but he does not say any words except "mama." He is frustrated and grunts a lot. I recently noticed that he tries to babble when he is doing something very physical such as climbing. I would like to try giving him Omega 3 but have no idea about a safe doseage and what form since of course he is unable to swallow pills/capsules. Thank you so very much for your time.

Donna said at October 20, 2010 8:36 AM:

Nordic Naturals has a liquid DHA supplement for Babies and Children. Dosages are on the label. Their sources are clean and healthy for children. In Colorado, you can find them at Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers and at other health food stores and online as well.

Bill said at October 5, 2011 4:46 AM:

I'm hoping the Equazen Eye Q baby caps are good as I've just ought a load for my LO.

martina said at January 17, 2014 11:25 AM:

nordic natural baby oil has the dosing on the packaging, it is weigt dependent, available from birth. my son loves it from 6 months. it has no smell and taste.

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