Eating Fish Weekly Improves Children’s Sleep Quality and Intelligence

Children should be eating two serving of fish per week.

A recent study reports that children who consume fish at east once per week have higher IQs & better quality sleep than children who rarely or never eat fish.

In this study of 541 school-aged children (54% boys / 46% girls), fish consumption and sleep were evaluated in children 9-11 years old while IQ was assessed at age 12.

Frequent fish consumption was related to both fewer sleep problems & higher IQ scores. The more frequently fish was eaten, the higher the IQ score observed.

In fact, the highest IQ scores were observed in children who “always” consumed fish (at least once a week) vs children who ate fish “sometimes” (2-3 times per month) or “rarely” (fewer than 2 times per month).

Authors still observed these findings even after considering other factors that could have accounted for the results (eg, parental education, occupation, marital status, etc.).

Adrian Raine, Professor at Penn State’s Perelman School of Medicine and co-author of the study, commented on the results: “Lack of sleep is associated with antisocial behavior; poor cognition is associated with antisocial behavior. We have found that omega-3 supplements reduce antisocial behavior, so it’s not too surprising that fish is behind this.”

To the authors’ knowledge, this was the first study to show that frequent fish consumption could help reduce sleep disturbances which may, in turn, benefit long-term cognitive function in children.

Keep in mind that the current Dietary Guidelines recommend that children eat 2-3 servings (8-12 ounces for children over age 10, smaller amounts for younger children) of a variety of fish and shellfish each week. A chart showing how often to eat more than 60 types of fish can be accessed via the EPA-FDA reference below.

Sources:

EPA. 2017 EPA-FDA advice about eating fish and shellfish. https://www.epa.gov/…/2017-epa-fda-advice-about-eating-fish…. Accessed 5 Jan 2018.

Liu J, et al. The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption. Sci Reports. 2017; 7: dog: 10.1038/s41598-017-17520-w

Whitman H, et al. Eating Fish Weekly Improves kids’ sleep, intelligence. www.medicalnewstoday.com. Updated 21 Dec 2017.

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