Food and Behaviour Research

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4 March 2020 - Finding Genius Podcast - Researching the Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Physical and Mental Health

The Finding Genius Podcast - Health, Bioscience and Medicine edition


A podcast interview with Dr. Alex Richardson of Food and Behaviour (FAB) Research

Without long chain omega-3 fatty acids, the development of the brain and nervous system would be impossible. This raises the question: what effects arise from long chain omega-3 fatty acid deficiency?

Dr. Alex Richardson joins the show to discuss the following:

  • What has caused nutritional imbalances globally and particularly in those who consume a Western diet
  • In what ways omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids differ
  • How short chain fatty acids differ in important ways from long chain fatty acids
  • What the data suggests about the use of long chain omega-3 fatty acids for child behaviour and learning - and as antidepressants

Dr. Alex Richardson is a research associate in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics at the University of Oxford, and founder of Food and Behavior (FAB) Research. Her interest in researching the role of nutrition in physical and mental health was triggered during her postdoctoral studies when she discovered how impactful long chain omega-3 fatty acids are on vision.

Since then, she’s been investigating how this essential nutrient may be related to conditions like ADHD, dyslexia, and disorders that fall on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Richardson published her first randomised placebo-controlled trial in this area around two decades ago - which demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids could lower impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity in children with above average levels of these symptoms. Through further clinical trials, she showed that supplementation with long-chain omega-3 could significantly improve reading, spelling, and symptoms of ADHD in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia). 

In further studies involving mainstream UK schoolchildren, her team found seriously low levels of omega-3 in the general population, but particularly in those children with the poorest reading, ADHD-type behaviour problems, and sleep. 

Dr. Richardson already has protocols set for two more studies: one that will look at the effects of omega-3 on sleep, and how sleep may be associated with ADHD and autism, and a second that will look at the relationship between omega-3 and sleep health, and common mental health conditions like stress and depression.

Tune in for a compelling show that’s full of eye-opening and powerful information.