Omega-3s may increase attention in children with and without ADHD

Researchers from the Netherlands and Germany have found that consuming omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) supplements can help with attention problems in those diagnosed with Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The researchers set out to investigate the effects of omega-3 supplementation on ADHD symptoms in young boys with and without the condition in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

The 16-week trial consisted of 40 boys aged between eight and 14 with ADHD and 39 boys without ADHD who were recruited as the reference group. All the subjects received either placebo or omega-3 fortified margarine (containing 650mg DHA and 650mg EPA per 10g serving).

At baseline, subjects with ADHD scored higher than the reference group on the CBCL subscales Attention Problems, Rule Breaking Behaviour and Aggressive Behaviour. After supplementation with omega-3s, scores on CBCL attention problems were reduced in comparison with placebo.

The researchers concluded: “… subjects who had received omega-3 PUFAs had lower scores on the CBCL attention problems subscale than subjects on placebo. This ties in with earlier studies that have suggested that omega-3 PUFA supplementation improves symptoms of inattention specifically, and not symptoms of ADHD more generally.”

The study, published in Neuropsychopharmacology, was carried out by researchers at the University Medical Centre in Utrecht, Dr Von Hauner Children’s Hospital, and Unilever Research & Development.