Cognitive and mood effects of 8 weeks' supplementation with 400 mg or 1000 mg of the omega-3 essential fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in healthy children aged 10-12 years

Nutr Neurosci. 2009 Apr;12(2):48-56. doi: 10.1179/147683009X388887.


Introduction: Despite media and public expectation of efficacy, no study to date has investigated the cognitive and mood effects of omega 3 supplementation in healthy children.

Subjects and methods: This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel groups pilot study assessed the cognitive and mood effects of either 400 mg or 1000 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in 90 healthy children aged 10-12 years. Cognitive performance and mood was assessed prior to, and 8 weeks following, commencement of treatment.

Results: There was a significant treatment effect on one cognitive measure (speed of word recognition), with the lower dose speeding, and the higher dose slowing, performance. Overall, the pattern of results strongly suggests that this effect was due to chance fluctuations in performance and that the treatments had no consistent or interpretable effect on performance.

Conclusions: The results here do not suggest that supplementation with these doses of DHA for 8 weeks has any beneficial effect on brain function in cognitively intact children.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Child
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Placebos
  • Reaction Time


  • Placebos
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids