An increased salmon intake by 4-6 year-olds leads to an improvement in the performance of picture concept and symbol search subtests of cognitive and fine-motor coordination but results do not suggest there is any impact on global IQ development

In December 2018 researchers from Germany and Norway published the results of their study to assess whether young children with a high salmon consumption had better cognitive outcomes than those on a meat based diet. A total of 205 children, aged 4-6 years, were divided into two groups and consumed meals containing either farmed Atlantic salmon or meat three times weekly for a period 16 weeks. Information on general dietary intake before and during the study was collected via food frequency questionnaires. Cognitive and fine-motor coordination tests were undertaken both at the start and end of the study as well as assessments of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin D and urinary iodine. Results showed that levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (both omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) increased significantly in the salmon group when compared to the meat group, although it should be noted that vitamin D and iodine intake also increased in the salmon group. In addition, no significant differences between the salon and meat groups were seen in the cognitive and fine-motor coordination tests. However, an analysis of the individual components of the tests showed that those with an increased consumption of salmon exhibited a significantly better improvement in symbol searching and picture concepts when compared to those in the meat group.

Demmelmair H et al. The effect of Atlantic salmon consumption on the cognitive performance of preschool children – A randomized controlled trial. Clin Nutr. 2018 Dec 22. pii: S0261-5614(18)32564-0.

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