Increasing evidence implicates functional deficiencies or imbalances of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in dyslexia.

The associations between literacy skills and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid status were examined. 32 dyslexics and 20 controls completed standardised tests of reading and spelling and gave venous blood samples for analysis of the polar lipid fatty acid composition of red blood cell (RBC) membranes.

Relationships between literacy skills and omega-3 and omega-6 concentrations were examined using rank-order correlations. Better word reading was associated with higher total omega-3 concentrations in both dyslexic and control groups. In dyslexic subjects only, reading performance was negatively associated with the ratio of arachidonic acid/eicosapentaenoic acid (ARA/EPA) and with total omega-6 concentrations.

There were no significant differences in membrane fatty acid levels between the dyslexic and control subjects. However, the finding that omega-3 status was directly related to reading performance irrespective of dyslexia supports a dimensional view of this condition, and our results also suggest that it is the omega-3/omega-6 balance that is particularly relevant to dyslexia.