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Omega-3 fish oil is just as effective for attention as the ADHD medication for some children.

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Researchers at Royal College London and Chinese Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan, have found that supplementation with omega-3 fish oil improves attention in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but only among children with low levels of omega-3 in their blood .

Researchers say their findings bring a personalized medical approach to psychiatry, demonstrating that omega-3s only work for some children with ADHD. Previous studies in the same group have shown that children with omega-3 deficiency are more likely to have more severe ADHD.

In a randomized controlled trial, 92 children with ADHD between the ages of 6 and 18 were given high doses of omega-3 fatty acid EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) or placebo for 12 weeks. Results published in the journal. Translational psychiatry,

The researchers found that children with the lowest levels of EPA in the blood experienced an improvement in concentration and alertness after taking supplements with omega-3s, but these improvements were not observed in children with normal or high levels of EPA in the blood. In addition, for children with high levels of EPA in the blood, omega-3 supplements adversely affected impulsive symptoms.

Researchers warn that parents should consult with healthcare providers before giving omega-3 supplements to their children. Omega-3 deficiency can be detected by the presence of dry and flaky skin, eczema, and dry eyes and can be confirmed by a blood test similar to the one conducted in this study (although the blood test is currently available only for research purposes),

Previous studies have found conflicting results from taking omega-3 supplements for ADHD symptoms, with the overall effect being relatively small. Standard treatments offered to parents whose children have ADHD include stimulants such as methylphenidate. The magnitude of the effect of improving attention and alertness from methylphenidate is 0.22-0.42. For comparison, the magnitude of the effect in the study of omega-3 intake for children with low levels of EPA in the blood was greater: 0.89 for focused attention and 0.83 for alertness.

Dr. Jane Chang, Lead Researcher at the Kings Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurobiology, said: “Our results show that fish oil supplements are at least as effective as attention to conventional pharmacological treatments for children with ADHD eat omega. -3 disadvantage. On the other hand, you can have too much good, and parents should always consult with the psychiatrists of their children, as our study suggests that some children may have negative consequences. ”

Professor Carmine Pariante, a senior fellow at the Kings Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurobiology, said: “Omega-3 supplements worked only in children with lower levels of EPA in the blood, as if the intervention made up for the lack of this drug. important nutrient. For children with an omega-3 deficiency, fish oil supplements may be the preferred option for standard stimulants. Our study sets an important precedent for other dietary interventions, and we can begin to benefit “personalized psychiatry” for children with ADHD. ”

The study was conducted in Taiwan, where diets often contain a lot of fish compared to diets in Europe and North America. Most studies of children with ADHD, conducted mainly in Western countries, showed that the average level of EPA in the blood is lower than in the current study.

Professor Kuan-Ping Su, a leading researcher from China Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan, said: “High levels of EPA in the blood without the use of additives can be achieved with a good diet with lots of fish, which is typical for some Asian countries. like Taiwan and Japan. It is possible that EPA deficiency is more common in children with ADHD in countries with lower fish consumption, such as North America and many European countries, and that fish oil supplements may have wider benefits for treating this disease than in our study. . ”

Fish Oil Supplements Do Not Affect Anxiety and Depression

More information:
Translational psychiatry (2019). DOI: 10.1038 / s41398-019-0633-0,

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King's College London

Omega-3 fish oil is as effective for attention as ADHD medications for some children (2019, November 19)
restored November 20, 2019

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