Adding an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to the diet could reduce disruptive and abusive behavior according to newly -released research.
The research was conducted by a team at University of Massachusetts Lowell and was led by Jill Portnoy, an assistant professor at the university’s School of Criminology and Justice Studies.
“This is a promising line of research because omega-3 fatty acids are thought to improve brain health in children and adults. There is more to be learned about the benefits, but if we can improve people’s brain health and behavior in the process, that’s a really big plus,” said Portnoy.
In this randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, parallel group trial, a community sample of children were randomized to receive either a fruit drink containing 1 gm of omega‐3 fats or the same fruit drink without omega‐3’s.
Child participants, adult caregivers, and research staff were blinded to group assignment.
The supplementation period was for six months, but results were tracked for one year.
Adult caregivers reported inter‐partner and child‐directed physical assault and psychological aggression at baseline, six months and 12 months. Results were reported using the Conflicts Tactics Scale.
Caregivers of children in the omega‐3 group reported clear long‐term reductions in psychological aggression in the group.
Improvements in adult psychological aggression were then correlated with improvements in child externalizing behavior scores.
Supplement benefits appear to extend to people who don’t even take them
The researchers also noted an additional benefit of the omega-3 supplementing in this particular study: There was a “knock-on effect” of lowering the reactionary aggressive behavior among the adult caregivers taking care of the children but not taking the supplements themselves.
“This study is the first to show that omega-3 supplementation in children can reduce inter-partner psychological aggression among adult caregivers not receiving supplements,” wrote the researchers.
“Findings suggest that improving child behavior through omega-3 supplementation could have long-term benefits to the family system as a whole.”
Besides brain health, research has shown that omega-3s are also beneficial for eye, heart and skin health, as well as for supporting hormone balance.
As the benefits have become more widely acknowledged, essential fatty acid supplements (including omega 3s) have become one of the top sellers in the supplement market.
– – –