It appears that I’ve been proven right once again.
And I hate to say I told you so — really, I do. I’m truly sick of saying it. Because for all the people I’ve helped in my 20-plus years practicing holistic medicine, millions more could have been saved if the powers-that-be weren’t so dead set in their misguided beliefs about nutrition.
According to reports on a new “pioneering clinical trial,” researchers have found that “vitamin, mineral and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation positively affects the behavior of normal school children.”
An important clinical trial, to say the least. But “pioneering”? I don’t think so.
I’ve been shining a spotlight on the behavioral benefits of good nutrition since 1998, when I wrote my first book, Feed Your Kids Well. And I’m not the only one. There’s plenty of established, well-publicized research out there showing that, in schools where they serve real food — not processed junk food in the form of pizza, tater tots, and sloppy joes — children make better grades and exhibit less disruptive behaviors.
So I don’t understand why the old adage “you are what you eat” was thrown out the window during the design of school lunch programs. Your grandmother could have told you this (and she probably did). But somewhere along the line, the USDA lost their minds — and ketchup has been a vegetable ever since.
And there isn’t a single community that’s been safe from the fallout. Not even my most wealthy patients, whose children go to the fanciest private schools in Manhattan. In fact, I had one patient who hated her kids’ school food so much that she recruited me to help her petition for some very necessary changes.
The annual tuition for this grade school was over $50,000 per year. Hardly a shoestring budget. And yet, for some reason, they still didn’t think fresh, nutritious meals were worth the few extra bucks per child they might cost.
We fought the school for several years until they finally gave their menus a makeover. And guess what? A year later, I got a letter from the school’s administrators, thanking me for forcing their hand. Because wouldn’t you know… the kids were behaving better, focusing more, and getting higher grades because of it.
Which brings me right back to the study I want to talk about today.
Oxford researchers recruited nearly 200 British children aged 13 to 16 for this 12-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. One group of teens received a comprehensive nutritional supplement daily, featuring vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s. The other group took a placebo. (Obviously, a very well-designed study. I’m glad to see that someone thinks supplement research is important.)
Researchers relied on school disciplinary records and the Conners scale — a tool used to diagnose ADHD and other disorders — to track behavioral changes.
Results revealed that the students who took supplements showed improvements in behavior. Meanwhile, the behavior of kids who received a placebo continued to slip further.
And while the researchers considered their discovery “pioneering,” this is not the first study of its kind to make headlines.
Yet most doctors in this country are still quick to fork over a prescription for Ritalin or Adderal — all the while, insisting that nutritional supplementation is just a “waste” of money.
Growing kids need an ample supply of all nutrients, but omega-3s are especially important. The brain develops rapidly during puberty, making it the time when young people are most vulnerable to fatty acid insufficiencies.
Which is why serving children “low-fat” foods is tantamount to child abuse in my opinion. And it’s also why I recommend all parents include a quality fish oil supplement as part of their kids’ daily routine (1,000 mg per day of EPA/DHA per day is a good general dose).