Can You Use Fish Oil
on ADHD?

Can you use fish oil on ADHD?

Latest research shows children receiving EPA supplementation for ADHD and other developmental disorders may display improved behavior and attention levels.

ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that typically occurs during childhood. Its symptoms include low attention spans, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.

The National Institute of Health estimates nearly 4 - 10 percent of all children aged 4 to 17 have ADHD. Treatment may involve behavior modification, counseling and medication.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and ADHD

Studies show some children that display attention problems and oppositional behavior may have reduced omega 3 fatty acid levels.

Since omega-3 fats have been connected to mood, memory and brain development, it's proposed DHA and EPA supplementation may minimize some ADHD symptoms.

  • An 8 week study providing children with attention deficit disorder 16.2 grams of EPA and DHA led to significant improvements in behavior including decreased hyperactivity, increased attention spans and less defiant and oppositional behavior.

  • Omega 3 supplements may also improve school grades and behavior. The Oxford-Durham study gave 117 school children omega 3 fish oil supplements for 3 months. All children displayed improved test scores in spelling and reading. Similar improvements were also seen when a placebo group switched to using omega 3 supplements.

  • Australian researchers discovered six grams a day of fish oil is better than Ritalin for significantly improving behavior in school children. The most remarkable finding was increased concentration and reduced restlessness without the side effects associated with stimulant medication.

Do Fish Oils Really Work on ADHD?

After reading several forums, websites and newsgroups on ADHD and natural treatments, the issue of effectiveness has come up many times with anecdotal reports by users:

On, a mother gives her 9 year old son with hyperactive disorder 1 3/4 teaspoon of daily fish oil. She claimed he's more focused and can participate in conversations without distractions.

On another mother claims her son calms down and can focus better after taking two fish oil capsules.

ADHD Fish Oil Google Groups, someone wrote that since taking fish oil they don't have to stop and re-read as often and they can think clearer with more focused memory.

However, on, someone wrote that taking 2 tablespoons of liquid fish oil showed no improvement in attention problems and they found better results with ADHD medication.

What's Best Dosage for ADHD?

Given the complex issues with treating attention deficit hyperactive disorders, more research is needed to determine an effective dosage for treating all forms of this health condition.

Experts believe there may be a nutritional component to ADHD. Research shows essential fatty acids can play a major role in your child's physical, emotional and neurological health. Using a child-specific fish oil may provide the essential nutrients needed for healthy growth and development.

Experts caution that not all symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention are caused by a deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids. Parents of children diagnosed with attention deficit disorders should seek expert guidance before trying any alternative therapies.

Research References:

Effects of an open-label pilot study with high-dose EPA/DHA concentrates on plasma phospholipids and behavior in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Nutrition Journal. 2007 Jul 13;6(1):16

Effect of Docosahexaenoic Acid-containing Food administration on Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - A Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Study, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2004 Mar;58(3):467-73.

A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Supplementation in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, The Journal of Pediatrics. 2001 Aug;139(2):189-96

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