When your child lacks focus and can't sit still, you may wonder if attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a factor. This disorder affects 3 to 5 percent of children in America, according to MedlinePlus, and leaves many parents wondering how to help. Some research indicates that fish oil, purportedly helpful in a variety of health conditions, may help ADHD, too.
About Fish Oil
Fish oil's key ingredient is omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that your body can't make. Eating fish, food products fortified with omega-3s, or taking fish oil supplements is the only way to introduce it into your body. Fish oil is officially recommended for only one condition -- lowering triglycerides. It's effectiveness for other health conditions, including ADHD, is not confirmed, but research is growing and ongoing.
Studies show a promising link between taking fish oil and reducing ADHD symptoms. A 2002 study in "Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry" showed that fish oil supplements were beneficial to children 8- to 12-years old diagnosed with ADHD and specific learning difficulties. Another 2007 study in the "Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics," found ADHD symptoms decreased when taking fish oil supplements. MedlinePlus categorizes ADHD as a condition that fish oil is possibly effective in treating, improving the behavior and thinking skills of ADHD children.
Sources and Doses
Dosage of fish oil supplements for ADHD that have been researched and found safe are six capsules daily of a specific supplement called Novosel or Eye Q. This supplement contains 400 mg of fish oil and 100 mg of evening primrose oil per capsule. If you decide to give fish oil supplements to your child for ADHD, consult your doctor first. You can also consume fish oil naturally by eating fatty fish. Particularly good choices are salmon, tuna and mackerel. For every 3.5 oz. of fish, you'll find about 1 g of omega-3 fatty acids.
Before beginning any regimen of supplements to treat ADHD, consult your child's doctor. If you choose to consume more fish, ask your doctor for recommended servings. Children with fish allergies may also be allergic to fish oil supplements, so take caution. Side effects of fish oil supplements include burping, bad breath, fishy aftertaste, heartburn, nausea and nosebleeds. Sometimes freezing the supplements or taking them with meals can help reduce side effects. Fish oil may interact with some medications, including some that treat high blood pressure. Vitamin E levels decrease with fish oil consumption, so consider this in your child's overall nutrition scheme.
- MedlinePlus: Fish Oil
- MedlinePlus: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Pubmed.gov: A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effects of supplementation with highly unsaturated fatty acids on ADHD-related symptoms in children with specific learning difficulties
- Pubmed.gov:Effect of supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids and micronutrients on learning and behavior problems associated with child ADHD