Omega-3s and ADHD: A missing piece of the puzzle?
Can adding a fish oil supplement help improve your focus and executive dysfunction? Let’s take a peek at what the evidence has to say, but first, here is some basic info on omega-3 fatty acids:
Facts about Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
- Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesized by the body so, therefore, we need to get them from our food. They include both EPA and DHA.
- Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA play integral roles in children’s neurological and cognitive development and support the normal function of cells throughout the body.
- Omega-3s can improve symptoms of depression and Alzheimers.
- These fatty acids have also been shown to be helpful in preventing brain inflammation after concussions, which in turn prevents long-term concussion symptoms. In my opinion, anyone who plays contact sports or engages in high-risk-for-concussion activities should be taking omega-3s daily.
- Following consumption, omega-3 fatty acids are incorporated into cell membranes in all tissues of the body. Measurable changes in cellular membrane content occur within days of increasing the daily consumption of these fatty acids.
- Cellular membranes from particular tissues (e.g, retina, brain, myocardium) are particularly enriched in these fatty acids.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous functions including helping with proper cell signalling as well as dampening the inflammatory response in the body.
What does the research say about ADHD and Omega-3s?
“All trials included in the meta-analysis improve inattention and total ADHD symptoms scores, regardless of the EPA supplementation dosage. However, only studies with EPA doses of >500 mg improve hyperactivity symptoms.”
Another trial showed that supplementation of 1.2g of EPA for 12 weeks improves cognitive symptoms (focused attention and vigilance) in ADHD youth, especially if they have low baseline EPA levels. So EPA alone helps, especially when there is a low baseline level of EPA.
So…how do you know if you are deficient?
TEST DON’T GUESS
I am a huge fan of a company called OmegaQuant [no affiliation] that has fair-priced testing for your omega-3 index, which will definitively indicate if you are deficient or not. Click here if you are interested in testing.
My suggestion is to start here if you suffer from ADHD, depression, heart disease or any type of cognitive decline (brain fog) to see if an omega-3 deficiency is a piece of the puzzle.
If you are considering using omega-3 supplements to manage your or your child’s ADHD symptoms, it is important to first speak with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to see if it’s the best option.
My favourite source, you ask?
SARDINES: They have a low toxicity profile combined with a high amount of bioavailable omega-3s per serving.