Effect of Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (n-3 LCPUFA) Supplementation on Cognition in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Literature Review with a Focus on n-3 LCPUFA Blood Values and Dose of DHA and EPA

van der Wurff ISM, Meyer BJ, de Groot RHM; Oct. 2020


Omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA) supplementation in the cardiovascular field is effective if a certain Omega-3 index (O3I) is achieved or the daily n-3 LCPUFA dose is high enough. Whether this applies to studies on cognition in children and adolescents is unclear.


The aims of the current review were to investigate whether: (1) a certain O3I level and (2) a minimum daily n-3 LCPUFA dose are required to improve cognition in 4–25 year olds.


Web of Science and PubMed were searched. Inclusion criteria: placebo controlled randomized controlled trial; participants 4–25 years; supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and/or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); assessing cognition; in English and ≥10 participants per treatment arm.


Thirty-three studies were included, 21 in typically developing participants, 12 in those with a disorder. A positive effect on cognitive measures was more likely in studies with an increase in O3I to >6%. Half of the studies in typically developing children with daily supplementation dose ≥450 mg DHA + EPA showed improved cognition. For children with a disorder no cut-off value was found.


In conclusion, daily supplementation of ≥450 mg DHA + EPA per day and an increase in the O3I to >6% makes it more likely to show efficacy on cognition in children and adolescents.

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