Study Shows That Fish Oil May Improve ADHD Behavior

A pilot study was published in the Nutrition Journal suggesting that kids with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, will benefit from daily supplementation of high levels of purified fish oils.

This was an 8 week study of children who took between 8 and 16 grams of EPA and DHA, which is the long chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. These children showed major improvements in their behavior reports their parents and the physicians that were working with them.

Previous studies of children with ADHD have a high AA/EPA ration in their blood compared to non-ADHD children. This study monitored the ratio of two fatty acids in the blood: arachidonic acid (AA) and cicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). For each child the amount of purified fish oil was adjusted until their AA/EPA ratio reached the ideal levels.

Statistically significant improvement in inattention, hyperactivity, oppositional/defiant behavior and conduct disorders were found with the use of the fish oil, as the AA/EPA ratio in their blood was lowered. Children who were taking their regular dosage of drugs to manage their ADHD as well as children who had stopped taking their drugs during the study showed improvement.

"This is an important study as it indicates when adequate levels of fish oil are added to the diet, significant behavioral changes can occur. This study also indicates that the growing epidemic of ADHD may have a strong nutritional component, the lack of sufficient intake of omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA," said Dr. Barry Sears, one of the co-authors of the study. "Equally important is that supplementation with high dose fish oil is synergistic with existing drugs, giving both the physician and parent new dietary approaches toward correcting this growing epidemic in our children."

Many children with ADHD are extremely bright, but may have failing grades in school, due to their lack of ability to concentrate and stay on task for a long time. Sometimes classmates may even be put off with ADHD children because they don't want to be bothered if it is quiet time and the child will not stop talking to them. Fish oil is easily found in supplement form at local drugstores, pharmacies, and general nutrition stores. Please check with your child's pediatrician before deciding to give your children any type of supplement.

ADHD is a neurological condition. It is the inability to concentrate in a natural manner, to pay attention to tasks at hand, and the inability to control impulsive actions. It is estimated that 3 to 7 percent of children have this disorder. For 60-80 percent of children that have ADHD, it continues into adulthood.

Information on this study was found at


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