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Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may improve ADHD

July 30, 2012

According to a new Australian review, combined omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplementation may significantly increase the likelihood of symptom improvement in children and adolescents suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The review analyzed data from 13 randomized controlled trials including 1,011 children and adolescents with ADHD (1). Most of the studies had compared the efficacy of supplements with omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids or combinations of both to placebo in ADHD patients for a maximum of 16 weeks. The analysis showed that there was a significantly higher likelihood of improvement (119%) in the group receiving omega-3 and or omega-6 fatty acids compared to placebo. However, there were no significant improvements overall for the fatty acid supplements and ADHD, nor were there any overall benefits for inattention scores, hyperacti-vity, or behavior.

The researchers commented that despite the promising results, at this stage there would be insufficient evidence to conclude that omega-3 and/or omega-6 fatty acid supplementation is of benefit in children and adolescents with ADHD. More studies using doses shown to significantly increase blood omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid concentrations and running for considerably longer periods would be needed in order to identify more conclusively the effectiveness of supplementation in ADHD.

References

  1. Gillies D. et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. July 2012; 7:CD007986.