Еffects of fortified milk on cognitive abilities in school-aged children: results from a randomized-controlled trial

  • Dafina PetrovaEmail author
  • María Asunción Bernabeu Litrán
  • Eduardo García-Mármol
  • Maria Rodríguez-Rodríguez
  • Belén Cueto-Martín
  • Eduardo López-Huertas
  • Andrés Catena
  • Juristo Fonollá
Original Contribution



Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals and long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential for children’s brain development and cognitive functions. The current study investigated whether milk fortified with micronutrients and PUFA can result in improved cognitive function in mainstream school children.


One-hundred-and-nineteen children (age 8–14, 58 boys) were randomly allocated to a fortified milk group or a regular full milk control group. Participants consumed 0.6L/day of the milk for 5 months. We recorded relevant biochemical, anthropometric, and cognitive measures (working memory and processing speed) at the start of the study and at follow-up after 5 months.


The fortified milk significantly increased docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (change from baseline of 28% [95% CI 17–39%] vs. −6% [95% CI − 13 to 0%] in the control group) and serum 25OH-vitamin D concentrations (41% [95% CI 30–52%] vs. 21% [95% CI 11–30%] in the control group). The fortified milk improved working memory on one of two tests (32% [95% CI 17–47%] vs. 13% [95% CI 6–19%] in the control group). The fortified milk also indirectly increased processing speed on one of two tests; this effect was small and completely mediated by increases in 25OH-vitamin D concentrations.


These results suggest that fortifying milk with micronutrients and PUFA could be an effective and practical way to aid children’s cognitive development.


Fortified milk Omega-3 PUFA Micronutrients Cognitive abilities Working memory 



The study was funded by Lactalis Puleva SL. JF is currently employed and ELH was employed by Biosearch Life, which is part of Lactalis. Dafina Petrova is supported by a Juan de la Cierva Fellowship (FJCI-2016-28279) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness. We would like to thank the schools in Granada that participated in the study: I.E.S. Albayzín de Granada, Colegio Diocesano Virgen del Espino de Chauchina (Granada), and C.E.I.P. Cardenal Cisneros de Villanueva Mesía.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dafina Petrova
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  • María Asunción Bernabeu Litrán
    • 2
  • Eduardo García-Mármol
    • 3
  • Maria Rodríguez-Rodríguez
    • 2
  • Belén Cueto-Martín
    • 3
  • Eduardo López-Huertas
    • 4
  • Andrés Catena
    • 7
  • Juristo Fonollá
    • 5
  1. 1.Andalusian School of Public Health (EASP)GranadaSpain
  2. 2.Education Agency of Junta de Andalucıa in GranadaGranadaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sport SciencesUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  4. 4.Estación Experimental del ZaidínSpanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)GranadaSpain
  5. 5.Clinical Studies DepartmentBiosearch LifeGranadaSpain
  6. 6.Medical Research Institute ibs.GRANADAUniversity Hospitals of Granada/University of GranadaGranadaSpain
  7. 7.Mind, Brain, and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC)University of GranadaGranadaSpain

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