Brain Foods

Brain Foods

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Cod Liver Oil May Make Children Smarter

Cod Liver Oil May Make Children Smarter

Pregnant and breast-feeding women who add cod liver oil to their diets may improve their children's intelligence, according to an ongoing study.

The study involved 300 women who were given either cod liver oil or corn oil supplements. The women took the supplements daily from the 18th week of pregnancy until their child was 3 months old. The supplementation was the only nutritional difference among the mothers’ diets.

When the children reached 4 years of age they were given intelligence tests to gauge problem solving and information processing ability. Children with mothers who took cod liver oil scored higher than the other children, according to the test results of 84 children.

Researchers will test the children again when they reach 7 years of age to further confirm findings; however the study results indicate that supplementing pregnant and lactating women with cod liver oil supplements may increase their children's intelligence.

DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in cod liver oil, plays an important role in the development of the central nervous system. It is thought that this fatty acid may be particularly valuable to the developing child during the third trimester of pregnancy and in the first three months of life, as the brain undergoes growth spurts during these times.

Although pregnant women are generally told to avoid supplements and medication during pregnancy, researchers say that no negative effects are associated with the use of cod liver oil.

The study findings are in line with other recent research indicating that breast-fed infants tend to have higher intelligence than formula-fed infants. This may be due to certain compounds found in breast milk, including omega-3 fatty acids.

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