Most parents want their children to get ahead in the world, and intelligence level tends to be the measure society uses to gauge the ability to excel. While there are certainly arguments to that point, not many parents would pass up the chance to increase IQ level in their children if they could.

A recent study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science analyzed data form the Database of Raising Intelligence, a continually updated compendium of randomized controlled trials that were designed to increase intelligence. From this data, they used 4 meta-analyses to determine what practices are most effective to raise young children’s IQ. These are the four factors they found helpful:

  • Supplementing infants with omega-3 fish oil
  • Enrolling children in early education interventions
  • Reading to children in an interactive manner
  • Sending children to preschool

I was pleased, and not surprised, to see the first item listed as omega-3 fish oil supplementation. They found it can raise IQ by 3.5 points. “Identifying the link between essential fatty acids and intelligence gives rise to tantalizing new questions for future research and we look forward to exploring this finding,” stated lead researcher John Protzko.

The researchers analyzed data on a number of supplements, including iron, thiamine, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and B-complex vitamins, but none made a significant impact like the omega-3 fish oil did. “Although providing iron supplements to pregnant mothers and infants may not boost young children’s IQ, introducing them later in a child’s life might,” they stated.

Omega-3 fish oil, especially the omega-3 DHA, is important to fetal and infant brain development, so these results certainly make sense. Prenatal and postnatal DHA supplementation is an important part of optimizing brain health in our young children today.