Omega-3 supplementation in the treatment of children with ADHD


Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common child disorder, often treated with stimulant medication (methylphenidate). But lately, the interest in non-pharmacological treatments is increasing, due mainly by the secondary effects of medication. These approaches include dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids.

To evaluate the effects of dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on ADHD symptoms in boys aged 8-14 years with and without ADHD, 44 boys with ADHD and 39 without this disorder (the reference group) were included in a study in which they consumed daily 10 g of margarine enriched with EPA or DHA or placebo (a substance that has no physical effect), for 16 weeks. The outcomes support what we have explained previously: dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may reduce symptoms of ADHD. Supplementation with omega-3 improved symptoms of inattention both in boys with and without ADHD. Furthermore, there was an effect of treatment on parent-rated symptoms of ADHD, regardless of diagnosis: EPA/DHA supplementation improved parent-rated attention in both children with and without ADHD.

Moreover, this study supports the idea that omega-3 supplementation may be an effective augmentation for pharmacological treatments of ADHD: the majority of children with ADHD received the omega-3 supplements in addition to their regular medication. Even taking into account changes in medication, the behavioral improvement persisted. This supports recent reports that showed that children receiving a combination of methylphenidate and omega-3 needed lower doses of methylphenidate, compared to children only receiving methylphenidate, to achieve the same benefits.

Omega-3 supplementation may be useful as an augmentation to standard pharmacological treatment in children with ADHD.



Bos DJ, Oranje B, Veerhoek ES et al. Reduced symptoms of inattention after Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in boys with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Mar 19. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.73. [Epub ahead of print]


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