Omega 3’s Help with ADHD November 06 2014

There are some things in life that you just have to have: a good book on a rainy day, a positive attitude, and Queen’s Greatest Hits. Things like this are considered “The Essentials.” ;) The same holds true for nutrition, and in particular for today’s post, fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, meaning the body can’t make them—you have to get them through food. They are necessary for a number of important functions in the body, including ensuring optimal brain function. The brain is 60 percent fat, and essential fatty acids are an integral component of this fat. A new study links increased intake of essential fatty-acid supplements with improvements to problem behaviors founds in children with Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder.

Close to six percent of school-age children are estimated to have ADHD, a disorder that includes difficulty in controlling attention and impulsive behaviors. ADHD is often treated with stimulant medications (Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, etc.). Although these prescription meds seem to be an effective solution for many, they leave untreated the underlying reasons that ADHD symptoms occur.

A more fundamental approach to treating ADHD is ensuring the nutrients that support the structural integrity of brain cells and improve overall function and communication between neurons are part of your diet. Research has confirmed this over the years and current studies continue to suggest the importance of diet.

A new study conducted by the Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg confirms the importance of diet and increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids to improve symptoms of ADHD. Specifically supplementing with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be helpful for individuals suffering from ADHD. DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid [ALA] and eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA]) are important for a number of body functions, including digestion and cell growth, and are instrumental for brain development and communication between neurons.

Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and are important for cognitive performance and behavioral function. This fact is supported from the very start of life as infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing nervous system problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include physical and mental fatigue, poor memory, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

Eat plenty of organic meats and eggs to increase levels of DHA. It is also abundant in fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and albacore tuna; however, most Americans do not eat significant quantities of fish. If it’s difficult to regularly include these foods in your diet, supplements like Pure Clarity can be used to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of DHA.  And when your brain gets the omega-3s it needs, you’ll almost be able to hear your neurons singing “We Are the Champions.” (Okay, that was a bad tie-in, but you get the picture.)

Written by Melissa Warner

Aben A, Danckaerts M. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the treatment of children and adolescents with ADHD. Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2010; 52(2):89-97.
Burgess J, Stevens L, Zhang W, Peck L. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000; 71(suppl):327S-330S.
Dopheide JA, Pliszka SR. Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder: an update. Pharmacotherapy. 2009 Jun;29(6):656-79.
University of Gothenburg. "Omega 3 can help children with ADD, experts say." ScienceDaily. 23 October 2014.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)