Omega 3 And ADHD Archives

Can Omega 3 supplements benefit hyperactive children?

There is a debate raging at the moment about the use of drugs to treat a hyperactive child. It seems from the debate that a diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is very quick to be made and drugs are very quick to be prescribed.

We aren’t here today to buy into the debate about describing drugs for hyperactive children, or about the definitions of ADHD or when it should be diagnosed.

What we are here to do is to bring to your attention the results of studies which have shown that increasing a child’s intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and in particular DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), the 2 most important of the Omega 3 fatty acids, may well have a role in reducing the incidence of hyperactivity in children, and may well have a role in improving the results that a child with a range of conditions may well experience at school.

Hyperactive child

Studies have clearly shown that over the last century our intake of the essential fatty acids has gradually declined and that now most of us, including children, are deficient in these important fats.

Research is also finding that increasing our intake of the Omega 3 fats has a wide range of health benefits, and in particular that it can improve our mental function from birth or even before that, right through to old age. DHA makes up a large part of our brain and therefore it would seem to make sense that if our intake of DHA in particular is low our brain may not function as well.

Studies are also now showing that a hyperactive child may well benefit from increasing his or her intake of the essential fatty acids. And in particular studies are showing that this increase in intake of the Omega 3 fats may well make a significant positive impact on the ability of the child to perform at school.

In a trial in Durham in the UK this was extensively studied. A group of children were selected on the basis that they were not doing particularly well at school, but not as a result of poor ability. Half the children selected were given Omega 3 supplements in the form of capsules and the other half were given a placebo, and as is the case in the studies none of the children knew which they were getting.

Results showed a significant improvement in the ability of the children receiving the Omega 3 fats to do better at school.

Whilst this does not prove that Omega3 supplements are a treatment for ADHD it certainly suggests that this should be studied further. And it’s not only ADHD, there are a number of other conditions that can be diagnosed in a hyperactive child which may also benefit including dyslexia and dyspraxia.

If you’re interested in reading much more about the study you can do so on the website of the BBC.

There seems to be a growing body of evidence that increasing the intake of Omega 3 essential fats is of benefit to all of us, including children and even the unborn. The health benefits of an increased essential fatty acid intake extend to a much wider range of health conditions than just ADHD, dyslexia or dyspraxia.

Whilst parents should not necessarily start their children taking Omega 3 supplements purely as a treatment for ADHD it is clear that there are other health benefits as well as this, and that there are a wide range of health reasons for increasing the essential fatty acid intake.

And of course this range of health benefits can be attracted to the parents as well as the children, provided the parents also supplement their diet with Omega 3 supplements.

If you have a hyperactive child you should always consult your doctor. However it is now clear that there is a growing recognition that most of us are deficient in Omega 3 fatty acid intake, and that all of us, including a hyperactive child, can benefit from increasing their intake of these fats.

But remember, not all Omega 3 supplements are the same, you should choose wisely is the best Omega 3 capsules offer significantly more health advantages than the worst

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There is a link between Omega 3 and ADHD reduction.

We have already talked about the link between Omega 3 fish oil and a reduction in depression levels. And we have also talked about the importance of adequate levels of Omega 3 for brain development in the fetus and infants.

So it’s no surprise that there is also a link between Omega 3 and ADHD. It now appears that it is possible to use fish oil to at least partially treat ADHD. Omega 3 fatty acids are an important part of an ADHD strategy.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or what is known as ADHD, is the inability of a person to concentrate for extended periods of time and to focus on one particular task. Symptoms can include hyperactivity and other impulsive and disruptive behaviour. It is estimated that around 7 percent of children in the US have some form of ADHD. Most of these are boys.

And somewhere around 70 percent of children with ADHD carry those problems through to adulthood.ADHD and Fish Oil

There have been studies conducted on ADHD sufferers which have found that they have very low levels of the 2 main Omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. These are 2 essential fatty acids that are very important to the general health of the body. DHA is also one of the major fats found in the brain.

Does your child have ADHD? Fish oil contains the most DHA and EPA of any food that we can take. Fish eat micro algae with DHA and store this in their body. Oil sourced from the fish therefore contains good levels of DHA and EPA.

There are studies about using fish oil for ADHD relief. One at the Inflammation Research Foundation focused on the possibility of reducing the symptoms of ADHD by using fish oil supplementation. This study involved 3 boys and 6 girls, all of which had been diagnosed with ADHD. Omega 3 fatty acids were given to the boys and girls as liquids and measurements were taken of the level of DHA and EPA in their bodies together with the ratio between EPA and AA “arachidonic acid” which was considered to be one of the major causes of the ADHD.

The results of using fish oil for ADHD treatment were impressive. At the end of a trial lasting 8 weeks the levels of EPA and DHA found in the children have increased significantly and there were significant reductions symptoms of ADHD in all of the children.

The inattention score fell from 18 to 10, almost half, and a hyperactivity score fell from 11 to 5, a fall to less than half.

It is still in the early stages of research about the effects of fish oil and ADHD relief. However there are very encouraging results which fall in line with the results of using fish oil for depression. It is clearly worth considering that for anyone with ADHD, Omega 3 fatty acids are an important part of the equation in tackling the problem.

Whilst it is too early to say that using fish oil to treat ADHD can be a stand-alone treatment, and this is unlikely anyway, it is certainly worth considering in conjunction with other treatments.

Note that the levels of DHA and EPA supplementation in the trial were quite high. The children took levels of these Omega 3 fatty acids in excess of the levels recommended for general intake. And there appears has yet to be insufficient evidence of the link between increased intake of fish oil and ADHD relief, so there are as yet, no official recommended dosages.

So if your child has ADHD, fish oil may be a part of the answer. Though of course as is always the case you should always consult your doctor first on issues such as these.

Not all fish oil supplements are created equal. You need to be careful in choosing your fish oil supplements, some have way more active ingredients than others.

Read our article about comparing Omega 3 fish oil supplements find out more about how to choose between the supplements available.

Read the report at Nutrition Journal, Vol. 6, 2007, pp. 16-23

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