Restoring omega-6/omega-3 balance in ADHD


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurological development disorder characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, among whose consequences impairment in social and academic aspects are found. As we have already stated on other occasions, treatments for ADHD include a combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions (cognitive training, parent education, and behavioral change interventions). Concern regarding potential adverse effects of medication on sleep, appetite, and growth have motivated the search for alternative and complimentary treatments, among which supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids is noteworthy.

Children and adolescents who follow a typical Western diet have an increased risk of ADHD (the western diet is characterized by being rich in omega-6 fatty acids and poor in omega-3 fatty acids) and have higher blood levels of omega-6 than omega-3 blood levels, in comparison with children and adolescents without ADHD. Where this bring us?

This finding about the difference between the blood levels of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids could indicate that one non-pharmacological intervention in ADHD could be to increase the intake of omega-3 (in fact, there are many studies that support this conclusion), in order to balance the relationship between both families of fatty acids in the blood. Of course, to reduce the intake of omega-6 would be also desirable… Let us not do as people who try to eat healthier eating more fruits and vegetables, but continue eating lots of junk food.



LaChance L, McKenzie K, Taylor VH et al. Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio in Patients with ADHD: A Meta-Analysis. J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2016 Spring;25(2):87-96. Epub 2016 May 1.


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