Omega-3 fatty acids reduce symptoms of ADHD.
But only in rats.
And only in male rats.
Female rats must be left to their hyperactive selves and humans of both sexes must wait for further research. But still, it's pretty cool.
Researchers at the University of Oslo conducted a new multidisciplinary study that they say shows a clear improvement in ADHD-related behavior in male rats after omega-3 supplementations. Those rats also showed a faster turnover of the signal substances dopamine, serotonin and glutamate in their nervous systems. Sciencedaily.com noted the study.
"In some research environments it is controversial to suggest that ADHD has something to do with biology. But we have without a doubt found molecular changes in the brain after rats with ADHD were given omega-3," says Ivar Walaas, Professor of Biochemistry in a release.
The potential of omega-3's to reduce ADHD behavior in rats has been suggested by previous studies. This is the first one that's multi-disciplinary, with contributions from behavioral science as well as psychology, nutritional science and biochemistry. Currently, the psychiatric diagnosis ADHD is purely based on behavioral criteria, while the molecular genetic background for the illness is largely unknown. The new findings indicate that ADHD has a biological component and that the intake of omega-3 may influence ADHD symptoms.
Where'd researchers find ADHD rats? They used varmints called spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) rats, which have a random genetic mutation that gives them high blood pressure. But that doesn't kick in until puberty. Before that, they're hyperactive, impulsive and have a tough time concentrating on whatever rats must concentrate on. They also react to Ritalin the same way ADHD people do, another reason these rats are often used in ADHD research.
Pregnant SHR rats were given omega-3 supplements and their offspring were given it too. The male rats showed much greater change in behavior and neurochemistry than the females. The researchers are cautious about drawing conclusions as to whether the results can be transferred to humans.
There have been, however, studies suggesting that supplementation can reduce ADHD symptoms. Research by Riordan Clinic scientists suggested that after consumption of a combination of fatty acids as well as magnesium and zinc, amino acids, vitamins and probiotics, most subjects had a considerable reduction in markers of metabolic stress and reported less emotional problems.