Fish oils to treat ADHD?

Caring for a child with ADHD

New research has found that fish oil supplements could work just as well as prescribed drugs, such as Ritalin to help improve brain function in hyperactive youngsters.

In the trial – which has been published in the Journal of Attention Disorders – 90 children who had been recently diagnosed with ADHD were tested over the course of 12 months.

One-third of the children were given Ritalin, a third received Equazen and the remaining third took both Ritalin and a fish oil supplement.

The children in all three groups showed dramatic improvement, and researchers discovered a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are “an effective, well-tolerated treatment for children with ADHD”.

Furthermore, when these fish oil supplements are used in combination with prescription medicines, doses can be reduced – essentially lowering the risk of drug side effects.

In light of this new research, ADHD charity, Addiss is now calling for fish oils to be available on the NHS. Chief executive Andrea Bilbow says:

“We have always advised parents to give fish oils as well as prescription medicines. We know they have an effect on cognition but the big problem is you cannot get this product on the NHS.”

ADHD is thought to affect around 5% of children and young people – mostly boys – and common symptoms include restlessness, short attention span and constant fidgeting.

The cause of the condition is unknown, but MRI scans have shown that children diagnosed with ADHD have less-coordinated activity between areas of the brain governing decision making and the ability to control impulses.

Substantial evidence has shown that omega-3, which is found in fish oils and oily fish, is important for brain function – particularly in those with learning difficulties and ADHD – but this new study is the first to involve a control group.

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Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

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