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New Research Suggests Omega-3 's Could Treat ADHD

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Can Omega-3 fatty acids help to treat ADHD?

A major research review of clinical trials has concluded that Omega-3 fatty acids have another benefit. They are an effective and safe treatment for children with ADHD. The new research was published in the Journal of Lipids and analyzed 16 studies. It included studies that focused on omega-3 fatty acids as a standalone treatment and others where omega-3s were used along with prescription drugs to alleviate ADHD symptoms.

What did the study find?

Overall, the majority of the studies covered in the research review reported significant improvements in ADHD symptoms when using omega-3s. They noted a reduced hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, reported better attention, and improved working and short-term memory. The research also found that omega-3 supplements with a specific ratio of the omega-3 fatty acids were most beneficial in alleviating ADHD symptoms. One of the researchers, Dr Emma Derbyshire laid out the specifics of what was discovered regarding EPA and DHA ratios and how they can be beneficial to helping with ADHD treatment:

"Now we know a supplement, Equazen, which provides a 9:3:1 ratio of eicosapentaenoic acid EPA, docosahexaenoic acid DHA and gamma linolenic acid, is the most effective at improving blood levels of these acids. It is well-known that children with ADHD have lower fatty acid levels in their blood compared with children without the condition. As a result, fatty acid supplements, with the 9:3:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids provides a valuable, effective and safe option for parents who want to do more to help their children manage their ADHD symptoms and improve their ability to learn."

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactive or impulsive behavior that interferes with functioning or development. The numbers of children being diagnosed with the disorder have skyrocketed in recent years all over the world. In the United States alone, it is estimated that about 5% of children are diagnosed with ADHD. This number varies per state, with Nevada recording an estimated low of 5.7% diagnosis and Kentucky reporting a high of 18.7% diagnosis. Researchers of the study reported that children who took Equazen regularly needed less medication after a few months. It is stressed that any changes made to a child's medication should be consulted with a healthcare professional.

How are Omega-3s helpful?

Omega-3 molecules are a critical component of every cell inside our body. We need omega-3s in order to function properly. However, our bodies do not produce omega-3s. The AHA recommends people consume more fatty-rich fish like salmon to obtain their omega-3s. However, more people are gaining their necessary omega-3s from fish oil supplements. Fish oil supplements are the most well-known and researched source of omega-3s. Without a sufficient supply of omega-3 fatty acids, we are doing ourselves a disservice. There is a connection between omega-3 deficiencies and the development of chronic illness. Lack of omega-3s in the diet are linked to an increased chance of neurological disorder development. Studies have shown that lower levels of omega-3s intake are associated with death due to coronary heart disease. They have also shown a greater increase in depression and the greater increase in unhealthy newborn babies.
E. Derbyshire, “Do Omega-3/6 Fatty Acids Have a Therapeutic Role in Children and Young People with ADHD?,” Journal of Lipids, vol. 2017, Article ID 6285218, 9 pages, 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/6285218