Attention deficit disorders are among the most common childhood psychiatric diagnoses. Medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Risperidone are often prescribed. While these medications can be helpful for controlling symptoms, they do nothing to address the underlying causes of the condition.

Essential fatty acids, such as the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahaexanoic acid (DHA), as well as omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids are essential for brain development in children, and brain maintenance in adults. Studies have shown that supplementation of these fatty acids in the correct ratios in non-medicated children results in greater functional connectivity in the areas of the brain governing attention and in behaviour and cognitive factors including in attention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, visual learning, word reading, and working memory.

One could extrapolate that if EFA’s have these benefits for kids they likely have similar benefits for older adults who begin to suffer impairment of any of these same cognitive factors.

 

References

Pringsheim, Tamara, et al. “The pharmacological management of oppositional behaviour, conduct problems, and aggression in children and adolescents with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Part 2: antipsychotics and traditional mood stabilizers.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 60.2 (2015): 52-61.

Weber, Wade A., et al. “Effects of Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation on Cortical Network Integrity in Medication-Free Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Preliminary Multimodal Neuroimaging Trial.” Journal of Nutritional Therapeutics 6.4 (2018): 92-106.

Cooper, Ruth E., et al. “The effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on emotional dysregulation, oppositional behaviour and conduct problems in ADHD: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Journal of affective disorders 190 (2016): 474-482.

Johnson, Mats, et al. “Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children: a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial in 9‐year‐old mainstream schoolchildren in Sweden.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 1.58 (2016): 83-93.

Yehuda, Shlomo, Sharon Rabinovitz, and David I. Mostofsky. “Essential fatty acids are mediators of brain biochemistry and cognitive functions.” Journal of neuroscience research 56.6 (1999): 565-570.

Kean, James D., et al. “Reduced inattention and hyperactivity and improved cognition after marine oil extract (pcso-524®) supplementation in children and adolescents with clinical and subclinical symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd): A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Psychopharmacology 234.3 (2017): 403-420.

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