Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Vitamins and fish oil improve reading & writing skills

A report by the Daily Mail claims to have shown that students who took vitamins and fish oil had improved reading and writing skills.

This is typical of the poor science and reporting that keeps perpetuating the myth that vitamins have special abilities. If you look at how the study was done, the reason for the better results from the students is fairly obvious.

The students who took part on the study took the vitamins and had 12 weeks of extra lessons. Yes believe it or not, in the world of SCAM, the extra lessons are ignored in order to come up with the conclusion that vitamins and fish oil improve brain power. Surely extra lessons for 12 weeks would have nothing to do with improved reading and writing skills, would it?

Rather than this bogus study, how about doing a study where all the children get the same lessons. Then give the students bottles of tablets to take. Some will contain the vitamins, some will contain fish oil and some will contain a placebo. (Something that looks and tastes the same but has no vitamin or fish oil).

Who is getting the vitamins and who is getting the placebo should be determined at random by someone independent of the school, students, teachers and the people measuring the improvement in ability. This information is to be kept secret until after the 12 week trial and after every single child has been tested and their improvement recorded.

Once the information has been recorded, then the code is broken so we can see who had the vitamins and who had the placebo. Lets see if those taking the vitamins did any better or worse than those on the placebo.

Supporters of SCAM will continue to conduct poorly designed studies like the one in the report to try and prove their point. The sick, the desperate and the ill-informed will continue to believe them, while the vitamin manufacturers will continue to make millions by selling useless pills based on false promises.

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The presence of belief, does not indicate the existence of truth."


At Monday, November 01, 2004 10:42:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there, it is Liz Ditz from California. ( Australia and the UK seem to be particularly plagued with SCAM treatments for learning disabilities. The fish oil deal has been going around here, too, but more as a autism "treatment".

The bogus treatments for dyslexia are: Irlen Syndrome, Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, any colored overlay deall, Dore treatment or DDAT, the PhonicsGame (not the study of sounds, phonics, but a particular "game" that is marketed to the gullible); BrightStar, developmental or optometry, vision therapy...well that is just a start.

At Thursday, December 27, 2007 2:47:00 am, Anonymous filipok said...

Two American researchers, Louise Patrick, SLP, and Ronald M. Salik, MD, have recently reported the results of a clinical trial of the effects of a fish-oil supplement on language development and learning skills in children with autism or Asperger's syndrome1. Fish oil provides essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are critical for brain health. Children with attention deficit, autistic, and related disorders have been shown to have significantly lower levels of EFAs in their red blood cells2.
The Patrick-Salik trial was an open-label study involving children aged 3 to 10 years who had been diagnosed with autism or Asperger's syndrome by a pediatric neurologist or qualified pediatric specialist. Children with a diagnosis of seizures, an allergy to fish or borage oil, or who were currently taking an EFA supplement were excluded. Parents were asked to refrain from adding new therapies during the study, and parental consent was obtained for each child.

The supplement, ProEFA™ from Nordic Naturals, combines omega-3 from fish oil and omega-6 from borage oil to provide 247 mg EPA and DHA, 40 mg GLA, and 14 IU Vitamin E. The children were each given one gram of ProEFA (Complete Omega™/Omega 3.6.9 Jr.™) per day for 90 days. If swallowing the capsule proved difficult, parents were encouraged to squeeze the contents into a food.

On days 0, 45, and 90 of supplementation, 49 developmental items from the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS), a criterion-referenced tool, were used to measure eight primary areas of language and learning: receptive language, requesting, labeling, intraverbals, imitation, play skills, social interaction, and generalization. Both the initial and final assessments were conducted by Ms. Patrick, a certified speech pathologist. An adult who knew the child well (parent, teacher, therapist) and who had been trained in scoring assessed the child on day 45 using the same 49 items. The score from day 0 was not referenced during evaluation on day 90.

Of the initial 22 children, 18 completed the 90-day trial. All of the children displayed significant increases in their language and learning skills based upon the ABLLS. A t-test analysis of the data in the areas of receptive language, requesting, play skills, intraverbals and social interaction resulted in a p-value < 0.0001. A p-value of <0.001 was obtained in the areas of labeling and generalization. In addition a p-value of <0.01 was obtained for vocal imitation. These p-values demonstrate that the increase in scores from day 0 to day 90 had high statistical significance. Ms. Patrick noted the importance of fish oil purity and, keeping in mind the hypersensitivity of most children with autism-related disorders, of beginning with the lowest possible dose for this population. "Our significant results were achieved with a relatively small amount of essential fatty acids," she observed.

Dr. Salik is the Medical Director of the Children's Emergency Center at Tucson Medical Center in Arizona. Ms. Patrick has over 10 years' experience providing services for children with autism and Asperger's syndrome. She is available for free consultation regarding EFA supplementation for children with communication difficulties at

Original source:

At Tuesday, April 01, 2008 4:05:00 am, Anonymous Matt said...

some interesting points in these articles, best advice is to do your research and consult your doctor if necessary

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At Wednesday, October 26, 2011 9:32:00 pm, Anonymous said...

It can't really have effect, I think this way.

At Tuesday, November 08, 2011 12:15:00 am, Anonymous said...

yes i do agree with the fact that vitamins helps in improving the reading and writing skill.. i have been taking fish oil tablets... its really effective..

At Tuesday, February 21, 2012 5:41:00 am, Anonymous Viagra said...

This makes a lot of sense. I will definitely have to purchase some vitamins now!

At Thursday, March 15, 2012 6:44:00 pm, Anonymous cousin doc said...

Before anybody starts taking filipok's posted study seriously, notice it was taken and published by Nordic Naturals, a fish oil manufacturer/seller. I would reconsider the "evidence" fish oil is a treatment, or the cure for autism, Asperger's syndrome, neurological disorders, and memory disorders.

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