Food and Behaviour Research

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The benefits of DHA & Choline for brain development and function - FOOD MATTERS LIVE

Listen to Dr Alex Richardson present a live webcast on the benefits of DHA & Choline for brain development and function at the Food Matters Live virtual conference on Wednesday 14th October at 13.00-13.30

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

A recording of this presentation - given at Food Matters Live 2020 - is now freely available via the FAB Youtube channel.


In it, Alex Richardson provides an overview summary of the latest research showing the vital importance of both omega-3 DHA and Choline for brain and body health.

Adequare supplies of both these nutrients are important at any age - but particularly in pregnancy and early life, to support brain development during these critical periods.

DHA and choline are both needed for the normal structure and function of brain and nerve cells. They are found together in neuronal membranes, and adequate supplies of both these nutrients are required for normal cell signalling.

Choline is less well-known than omega-3 DHA, but has many important functions in the brain and body, including in the metabolism and transport of fats. In fact, choline is needed both
(1) to help transport omega-3 DHA from the mother to the developing fetus during pregnancy, and
(2) for the effective transport of DHA into the brain (at any age).

Choline is also an essential component of acetylcholine - a major neurotrasmitter crucial for normal movement and cognition - as well as an important 'methyl donor', with key roles in gene expression and one-carbon metabolism.


Dr Alex Richardson.

Senior Research Associate, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford; and Founder Director of the UK charity Food and Behaviour (FAB) Research. 

Alex Richardson is internationally known for her research into the role of nutrition – particularly omega-3 fatty acids - in brain development and function. Her 90+ publications include controlled treatment trials in both general and clinical populations, and the first such trials of dietary supplementation with omega-3 in ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and related neurodevelopmental conditions. With colleagues, she also published the earliest reports showing benefits of omega-3 supplementation in psychiatric and neurological disorders including depression and schizophrenia.

Her research is highly interdisciplinary, involving psychological, psychophysical, physiological and brain imaging as well as nutritional studies investigating biological and other mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders; and collaborative investigations into the epidemiology and genetics of both normal individual differences and psychological disorders.

Alex’s work has always aimed at developing new methods of identification and management that have real practical benefit. She therefore works closely with education and health practitioners as well as support groups and charities. Her book for parents and professionals, 'They Are What You Feed Them' explains how and why diet can affect behaviour, learning and mood, and offers practical advice based on scientific evidence. All author proceeds are dedicated to the FAB Research charity she founded in 2003, to promote and disseminate research findings on the behavioural effects of nutrition and diet.

Alex originally trained as a teacher, and her excellent communication skills and clear presentation style are such that she is frequently invited to speak to public and professional audiences in addition to presenting at national and international research meetings. Her work has received substantial media coverage, and she frequently contributes to press, radio and TV both in the UK and abroad.