ADHD and Omega-3

Today’s guest post is by Roselen, a health nut from the Philippines who previously worked for a fitness magazine. She is now a blogger and a contributor to several health and personal development blogs.

Recent studies say that levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and omega-3s can play a great role in the learning and behavior of school children. The importance of DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acids) in cardiovascular and immune system health is well known. They are also very helpful for normal body development and functioning of the nervous system.

Kids, Learning and Omega-3                                     

DHA, as mentioned above, is a very important component of the body. And probably, by watching TV commercials, you can conclude that it is needed. DHA is found in milk, supplements and other baby products.

DHA has been proven beneficial for kid’s overall health and brain development. In addition to folate, most pregnant women are advised to increase the levels of omega-3 in their diets to help their baby’s brain development and strengthen cognitive functions.

During elementary years, it is recommended to continue to supplement their diets with DHA. This aids the learning process by giving pupils a better learning aptitude compared to those with low omega-3 levels in their system.

In an Oxford University study, they found out that the level of DHA in child’s blood level may predict learning ability and behavior. Omega-3 aids in children’s reading, in their capacity to retain knowledge and therefore perform better in school. This implies that an earlier exposure to these supplements may help a child hurdle the educative process.

Kids, Behavior and Omega-3

The capability of omega-3 to aid in behavior modification has been found through ADHD studies. For a long time, ADHD has been considered a behavior that can hinder learning.  But once these behavior problems are addressed; proper learning may take place since the barrier has been removed. Medications and other therapies are often used to treat ADHD, but it is not highly recommended since medications may cause side effects later. Behavior modification plans however, have been established to help and newer studies show that long chained fatty acids, such as omega-3s, can help behavior problems such as hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity, and restlessness.

Common Omega-3 Sources

Common omega-3 sources include oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, sardines and salmon. Plant sources are flaxseeds and chia seeds. However, to ensure optimum absorption, include supplements that have been purified from fish and krill oils.

Have you incorporated omega-3 into your child’s regimen? Have you noted any benefits? Please share your experience in the comments section.

Omega-3 and learning

SharingMom’s note: We have used omegas in our regimen for years with positive results.
The brand we prefer is by Nordic Naturals:


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  1. Hilery says

    My question is how much omega 3 does a child need to be therapeutic? Is there are reference chart? Thanks for any help with this

    • says

      Thanks for your question. The studies done on omega-3s for ADHD have used a wide range of doses. I base my dosage on the recommendations from the Autism Society:

      Recommended dosages: (based on the amount of omega 3’s, not the total amount of oil which will contain other oils) are:

      Omega 3: 20-60 mg/kg (600-1800 mg for a 30 kg, or 60 lb, child). For younger children, use a supplement richer in DHA, and for older children and adults, use a supplement richer in EPA.

      Omega 6: ¼ as much omega 6 as omega 3; so, if taking 1000 mg of omega 3’s, then 250 mg of omega 6. It is important to maintain a balance of omega 3 and omega 6, so although most people in the US have enough omega 6, those taking an omega 3 supplement usually should take more.

      Flax seed oil is also a source of omega 3 fatty acids, but the form it provides (alpha linolenic acid) must be converted by the body to the active form (EPA and DHA). There have been some reports that children with autism respond poorly to flax seed oil, so we generally recommend fish oil instead.

      Cod liver oil (or other fish liver oil) is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, and also provides good amounts of vitamin A and vitamin D. However, vitamin A intake from all supplements should not greatly exceed the RDA intake (see vitamin/mineral section) for extended periods, since excess amounts will be stored in the liver and could affect liver function. (Carotenes are pre-vitamin A and are not a problem).

      • Michelle Bell says

        Just wanted to let you know that I bought and had my daughter start taking these last week and her teacher told me she has already seen and improvement in her attention skills. She doesn’t have ADHD but is very easily distracted. She got 100% on her spelling test on Friday and has been finishing her work at school! On the bottle it says two a day, but I have been just giving her one.
        Also, the first time she didn’t like the capsule and spit on the shell. So, now I poke a hole in it and squeeze onto the food she is eating.

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