Next Article in Journal
Peculiarities of One-Carbon Metabolism in the Strict Carnivorous Cat and the Role in Feline Hepatic Lipidosis
Next Article in Special Issue
Impact of Docosahexaenoic Acid on Gene Expression during Osteoclastogenesis in Vitro—A Comprehensive Analysis
Previous Article in Journal
Comparison of a Full Food-Frequency Questionnaire with the Three-Day Unweighted Food Records in Young Polish Adult Women: Implications for Dietary Assessment
Previous Article in Special Issue
Expanding Awareness of Docosahexaenoic Acid during Pregnancy
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessReview

The Relationship of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) with Learning and Behavior in Healthy Children: A Review

DSM Nutritional Products, 6480 Dobbin Road Columbia, MD 21045, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2013, 5(7), 2777-2810;
Received: 2 May 2013 / Revised: 4 June 2013 / Accepted: 8 June 2013 / Published: 19 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Docosahexaenoic Acid and Human Health)
PDF [567 KB, uploaded 19 July 2013]


Childhood is a period of brain growth and maturation. The long chain omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is a major lipid in the brain recognized as essential for normal brain function. In animals, low brain DHA results in impaired learning and behavior. In infants, DHA is important for optimal visual and cognitive development. The usual intake of DHA among toddlers and children is low and some studies show improvements in cognition and behavior as the result of supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids including DHA. The purpose of this review was to identify and evaluate current knowledge regarding the relationship of DHA with measures of learning and behavior in healthy school-age children. A systematic search of the literature identified 15 relevant publications for review. The search found studies which were diverse in purpose and design and without consistent conclusions regarding the treatment effect of DHA intake or biomarker status on specific cognitive tests. However, studies of brain activity reported benefits of DHA supplementation and over half of the studies reported a favorable role for DHA or long chain omega-3 fatty acids in at least one area of cognition or behavior. Studies also suggested an important role for DHA in school performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: docosahexaenoic acid; children; learning; behavior; school performance docosahexaenoic acid; children; learning; behavior; school performance
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Kuratko, C.N.; Barrett, E.C.; Nelson, E.B.; Salem, N., Jr. The Relationship of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) with Learning and Behavior in Healthy Children: A Review. Nutrients 2013, 5, 2777-2810.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Nutrients EISSN 2072-6643 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top