You have probably heard about the many benefits Omega-3 provides in promoting heart health. What you may not have heard is that Omega-3 may also be of some benefit in managing ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).
Characteristics of ADHD?
ADHD is often characterized by poor concentration and focus, impulsivity and behavior that seems driven (some have described children with ADHD as having a high revving motor but no brakes). Talk with your pediatrician or school counselor for an evaluation.
Additional Benefits of Omega-3
Omega-3 is also thought to have a positive impact on depression (including post-partum depression), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and a host of other physical and mental health concerns.
How Omega-3 May Help with ADHD
According to early research, children dealing with ADHD may not have appropriate levels of certain essential fatty acids. Some of these include DHA and EPA, both called essential because the body needs them but cannot manufacture them in adequate amounts.
Small amounts of these essential fatty acids can be converted by the body, but high intake of Omega 6, (a few sources include foods containing corn and cottonseed oil) can interfere with this process.
Preliminary studies have shown that boys with lower levels of Omega-3 exhibited more behaviors consistent with those often associated with ADHD than did boys with more normal levels of Omega-3.
What Does this Mean for Parents?
Children with ADHD often experience frequent disapproval from parents, teachers and other caregivers. Constant negative feedback can be damaging to a child’s sense of self. Additionally, children that are discouraged or believe that they just can’t please the adults in their lives have no real incentive to improve their behavior.
Given the alternatives, opportunities to help children better control behavior and receive more positive feedback are absolutely worth more research. Talk with your doctor. Omega-3 may be an important part of a behavior modification/nutrition intervention plan that helps your child more successfully manage the symptoms of ADHD.
Managing ADHD with nutritional interventions may be a good strategy for parents looking for alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions. These strategies may be especially helpful for teens that resist medication therapy for any number of reasons, including perceived stigma (particularly if the dosage is administered by a nurse during school hours).
Sources of Omega-3
Foods high in Omega-3 include: salmon, walnuts, canola oil, farmed oysters, herring, sardines, pumpkin seeds and soy. Of course getting children to eat most of these things is another matter entirely. If little ones possess picky palates, try Omega-3 fortified foods or supplements. It is a good idea to consult your child’s pediatrician to determine the most appropriate intake amount before beginning an Omega-3 regimen.