ADHD Home > ADHD and Fish Oil

Research has indicated that using supplements of fish oil or other omega-3 fatty acids can help control symptoms of ADHD. Although it is not a cure for this condition, studies have shown that these supplements can significantly reduce the symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Before buying a fish oil supplement for ADHD, however, make sure it is purified and tested for mercury.

Can Fish Oil Treat ADHD?

Supplementation with fish oil or other omega-3 fatty acids has shown a number of health benefits, from helping with asthma symptoms to preventing heart disease and strokes. These fatty acids are also critical in brain development and function, and the intake from the average American diet is much lower than what is recommended. Researchers have investigated the role of fish oil as a "brain food" more closely, looking at its effects on depression, Alzheimer's disease, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

How Are Symptoms of ADHD Affected by Fish Oil?

Could fish oil supplementation really help with the symptoms of ADHD? Research suggests that it is quite possible. Many studies have favored the supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids in children with ADHD, showing a meaningful reduction of symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity with treatment, as well as improvements in age-standardized measures of spelling and academic achievement.
A recently published analysis of the results of many trials using omega-3 fatty acids in ADHD treatment showed that the net result of all of these trials was a significant positive effect on the symptoms of ADHD as rated by parents, teachers, and other observers. Even trials with a relatively short duration of three months showed positive changes in ADHD-related symptoms in children receiving omega-3 fatty acids.
Although these positive effects do not totally correct the symptoms of ADHD, they were large enough to be considered meaningful and strongly support the supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids in children with this condition.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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