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Combined omega-3 and omega-6 supplements promise to improve behavior of children suffering from ADHD

August 2, 2012

New data from a Sri Lankan, randomized controlled study suggest that taking combined omega-3 and omega-6 supplements may improve measures of inattention, impulsiveness and cooperation in children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot study saw no statistically significant improvements in the ADHD group compared to the control group within the first 3 months of treatment, but clear improvements were evident at the 6 month stage.


The 94 children recruited for the study were all aged 6–12 years and had been receiving methylphenidate medication (Ritalin) and standard behavioural therapy for at least 6 months before the study began. They were randomly assigned to receive a combined omega-3 and omega-6 supplement or a placebo for 6 months. The ratio of fish oil to primrose oil was 1.6:1, with a daily dose of 296.37 mg of omega-3 and 180.75 mg of omega-6. The children’s behavior was measured at 3 and 6 months, with the parents completing a self-assessment checklist. It has been commented that the study results would be stronger if they had been based on an additional checklist completed by teachers. Nevertheless the authors added that the results are promising and support some other pre-existing research which has indicated that a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 may have benefits for children with ADHD. While further evidence would be needed before doctors start recommending combined omega-3 and omega-6 supplements as a routine treatment for children with ADHD, the researchers concluded that “the combination of omega-3 and omega-6 was safe and effective in improving behavior and learning in the group that was studied”.

References

  1. Perera H. et al. Combined ?3 and ?6 Supplementation in Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Refractory to Methylphenidate Treatment: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. J Child Neurol June 2012; 27( 6):747–753