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Posted: March 31st, 2022

The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Treating ADHD Symptoms in Children

The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Treating ADHD Symptoms in Children and Adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects about 5% of children and adolescents worldwide. ADHD is characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that interfere with daily functioning and academic performance. ADHD can also cause emotional and social problems, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and peer rejection.

One of the possible causes of ADHD is a deficiency or imbalance of essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are the building blocks of fats in the body and brain. EFAs are important for the structure and function of brain cells, especially the membranes that surround them. EFAs also play a role in the production and regulation of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which are involved in attention, motivation, mood, and behavior.

Among the different types of EFAs, omega-3 fatty acids have received the most attention for their potential benefits for ADHD. Omega-3 fatty acids are mainly found in fish oil, which is extracted from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines. Omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are both crucial for brain development and function.

Several studies have shown that children and adolescents with ADHD have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood and brain than their peers without ADHD. Moreover, some studies have found that supplementing with fish oil can improve ADHD symptoms, such as attention, focus, memory, and behavior. For example, a study by Montgomery et al. (2022) found that schoolchildren who received fish oil supplements rich in omega-3 EFAs for three months showed significant improvements in reading, spelling, and behavior compared to those who received a placebo.

However, not all studies have found positive effects of fish oil on ADHD symptoms. Some factors that may influence the outcomes of fish oil supplementation include the dosage, duration, ratio of EPA to DHA, quality and purity of the fish oil, and the presence of other nutrients or medications. Therefore, more research is needed to determine the optimal conditions for using fish oil as a treatment for ADHD.

Fish oil is generally safe and well-tolerated when taken as directed by a doctor. However, some people may experience side effects such as nausea, heartburn, or fishy burps. People who are allergic to fish or shellfish should avoid fish oil supplements and look for alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as algae or flaxseed oil. People who take blood thinners or have bleeding disorders should consult their doctor before taking fish oil supplements, as they may increase the risk of bleeding.

In conclusion, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health and function, and may help improve some of the symptoms of ADHD in children and adolescents. However, more research is needed to establish the effectiveness and safety of fish oil supplementation for ADHD. Fish oil should not be used as a substitute for other treatments for ADHD, such as medication or behavioral therapy, but rather as a complementary approach that may enhance their benefits.

Works Cited

Montgomery P., Burton J.R., Sewell R.P., Spreckelsen T.F., Richardson A.J. Fatty acids and sleep in UK children: subjective and pilot objective sleep results from the DOLAB study–a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Sleep Research 2022; 21(5): 569–575.

ADDitude Editors. Omega-3 Benefits to ADHD Brains: Fish Oil for Focus. ADDitude Magazine 2023; https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-omega-3-benefits/

Hallowell E., Marner K., Adler T. Fish Oil Benefits for ADHD: Best Omega 3 Supplements. ADDitude Magazine 2022; https://www.additudemag.com/fish-oil-for-adhd-symptoms/ research essay writing service.

Verywell Mind Editors. Can Fish Oil Improve ADHD Symptoms? Verywell Mind 2021; https://www.verywellmind.com/can-fish-oil-improve-adhd-symptoms-20900

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