Melanie McGrice Kids Brain Health Interview
Melanie McGrice Kids Brain Health Interview Parents whose children are underperforming at primary school may be able to assist through dietary intake of algal DHA if a new study is anything to go by. The Oxford Learning and Behavior (DOLAB) trial showed that taking daily algal DHA supplements improved reading performance for poor readers in the trial, and helped these children catch up.
Australian Dietician Melanie McGrice says: "The Oxford DOLAB Study indicates that intake of algal DHA may be one way to achieve learning improvements in underperforming kids, an exciting result that may form part of a broader solution to help those who are struggling to read or have behavioral issues."
DHA is a major structural fat, and it accounts for up to 97 percent of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain.
"As the brain continues to grow and develop in childhood and even adolescence, maintaining good brain health and nutrition is critical to a child's performance at school," says McGrice.
"If local parents want to make sure their child is getting enough DHA they can try foods fortified with algal DHA such as some yoghurts, or fish - which is an excellent source of DHA. DHA is also found in red meat and eggs."
The Algal DHA used in the Oxford DOLAB Study can be found in fortified yoghurt in Australia.
"If you're not sure whether your child's getting enough DHA, you can seek the advice of a qualified dietician who'll be able to assist," says McGrice.
The study results were published in the peer-reviewed PLoS ONE journal last month. The DOLAB trial, an independent study initiated at the University of Oxford, was funded by a grant from DSM Nutritional Products, and DSM's algal DHA omega-3 oil was used as the active treatment for the intervention.
Melanie McGrice Interview Melanie McGrice is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with a Master's degree in Dietetics. She is the director of Health Kick Nutrition & Dietetics which has a number of clinics around Melbourne.
She has a special interest in weight management, and is the current chairperson of the Dietitian Association of Australia Obesity Interest Group. She has co-authored seven papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to date.
Melanie is a media spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia and is regularly interviewed for news, current affairs and lifestyle programs, as well as radio and press.
She also writes regularly for magazines and is a regular public speaker for corporate companies, professional organisations and schools.
She is passionate about educating Australians about how to eat well, appreciate good food and maintain a healthy lifestyle so that they can feel great and get the most out of life.
Question: How does omega-3 DHA relate to reading difficulties and behavioural issues in children?
Melanie McGrice: A recent research study untaken at the Oxford University called the DHA Oxford Learning and Behaviour trial demonstrated that taking DHA supplements improved reading and behaviour in school-aged children.
Question: Did this new research surprise you, at all?
Melanie McGrice: No it didn't surprise me because we know that DHA is very important for brain development and it is critical throughout childhood and adolescence as well. DHA is an important nutrient for a children's developing brain and we've seen that from a range of other studies. The Oxford study indicates that algal DHA might be one way of achieving these better learning outcomes in underperforming kids.
Question: What is omega-3 DHA?
Melanie McGrice: Omega-3 DHA is a major structural fat in the brain and it accounts for 97% of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain. DHA is a nutrient that is critical for optimal brain development and cognitive functions throughout life starting right from childhood through to the later years, of life.
We found in this study that DHA is important for learning improvements in underperforming kids however DHA is important for a whole range of things including prevention of heart disease, eye health and sight and decreasing the risk of Alzheimer's disease later in life.
Question: How can parents incorporate omega-3 DHA in a child's diet?
Melanie McGrice: Fish is the best source of DHA whilst it is also found in red meat, eggs and fortified foods such as yoghurt. If parents are not sure whether there kids are getting enough DHA then it's best to seek the advice of an accredited practicing dietician.
Question: How can adults incorporate more omega-3 DHA into their diets?
Melanie McGrice: Adults will need to consume the same food sources ensuring they include fish in their diet each week, it is recommended that Australians should be eating three serves of fish a week whilst including red meat, eggs and fortified yoghurt. Once again if adults are unsure they can ask their dietician if they're meeting their requirements of DHA or if they'd need to consume an additional nutrition supplement.
Question: How else can we increase our brain health?
Melanie McGrice: There are lots of things we can do to increase our brain health such as ensuring we are well hydrated (very important) and keeping the brain active.