Might essential fats cure dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a complex neurological condition that affects
many areas of learning and coordination, especially reading, spelling and writing.
Frequently, sufferers of dyslexia also suffer from dyspraxia (a condition affecting
coordination and motor function), suggesting that there may be a common biological
basis to these conditions. This common feature may be related to impaired EFA
metabolism because clinical features of EFA deficiency have been reported in
individuals with dyslexia and dyspraxia.
EFAs are converted by the body into their long-chain
derivatives, which are important components of retinal and brain membranes.
Impaired essential fatty acid metabolism may therefore affect the ability of
the brain to process and act upon visual stimuli. In a preliminary study, dark
adaptation was found to be compromised in 10 dyslexic young adults compared
with controls. Supplementation with Fish
Oil providing 480mg DHA/d for 1 month significantly improved dark adaptation
in half of the subjects.
In another study, 15 children with dyspraxia were supplemented
with a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for 4 months. After this
period, it was noted that all of the children had significant improvements in
movement and coordination. The results obtained by the scientists are promising,
but because of the nature of the studies, firm conclusions cannot be drawn.
However, further studies are in progress, which should provide additional insight
into the benefits of EFA supplements for these conditions.
Am J Clin Nutr, 2000, 71(suppl): 323S-6S
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