Just in time for ADHD Awareness Month, new research from Sweden adds to the growing body of data that suggests omega-3 fatty acids may help kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
People with ADHD have varying levels of difficulty with attention, impulsivity and overactivity. Five percent of American children have ADHD, according to the American Psychiatric Association, though other studies have indicated a higher and growing prevalence of the condition. Boys are twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed. About two-thirds of kids diagnosed receive prescriptions for stimulants, like Adderall or Ritalin, which can help, but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis, according to a New York Times story about concerns among the medical community about overdiagnosis and overmedication.
Over the past few years researchers have been discovering the power of omega-3 and phospholipids to help the brain-based condition. Mats Johnson, a doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg conducted the new research with 75 children and adolescents with ADHD at the Gilberg Neuropsychiatry Centre at the University of Gothenburg. In the double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the subjects were given either omega-3 and 6 supplements or a placebo for three months. Then, they were all given omega-3 and 6 supplements over three months.
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"For the group as a whole, we did not see any major improvement, but in 35 percent of the children and adolescents who have the inattentive subtype of ADHD called ADD, the symptoms improved so much that we can talk about a clinically relevant improvement," said Mats Johnson, in an article about the research on heathcanal.com.
When researchers measured the levels of omega-3 and 6 in blood samples taken from the subjects, the kids who showed clear improvement in their symptoms also showed a better balance between the blood levels of these two fatty acids.
Johnson defended the research in his dissertation "Non-stimulant interventions in ADHD" earlier this month.