Omega-3 benefits are well-documented — from reducing incidence of Coronary Heart Disease (Food & Drug Administration) to easing ADHD symptoms (National Center for Biotechnology Information), but unfortunately, misinformation persists.
People with ADHD “who have low levels of omega-3s will show the biggest improvement in mental focus and cognitive function when they add more of these healthy fats to their diet.”
– Richard Brown, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. (Additude Magazine)
ADHD Treatment Facts You Need To Know:
We’ve gathered five key facts that will assist you in incorporating Omega-3 fatty acids into your or your child’s diet:
- There are different types of omega-3s: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) (WebMD).
- Plant-based ALA is only about 10% as effective as marine-based DHA and EPA (WebMD).
- Omega-3s are found naturally in fish, plants (e.g., edamame), grains, and some fortified dairy/juices (see convenient list here from WebMD).
- Omega-3s can also be taken as supplements for ADHD symptom relief. Supplements come in the form of fish oil, which contains linoleic (or omega- 6) and alpha linolenic (or omega-3s), two key components of brain cell membranes that help transport nutrients in and out of cells (Additude Magazine). For more information, see our post on top 10 food categories and supplements to ease ADHD symptoms.
- Research suggests a daily fish oil capsule (dosages may vary) can help curb the symptoms of ADHD (Additude Magazine).
The Oxford-Durham Study: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Dietary Supplementation With Fatty Acids in Children With Developmental Coordination Disorder
Results. No effect of treatment on motor skills was apparent, but significant improvements for active treatment versus placebo were found in reading, spelling, and behavior over 3 months of treatment in parallel groups (emphasis added). After the crossover, similar changes were seen in the placebo-active group, whereas children continuing with active treatment maintained or improved their progress. – American Academy of Pediatrics
Omega-3s are called “essential” fats because they are integral to optimum health and brain functioning. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot produce them, so whether you get your intake from plants, fish, other foods, or supplements, it is important you factor them into your ADHD treatment plan.
Download the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement Fact Sheet