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Fish Oil Supplements for ADD/ADHD Children: Does it Work?


The following is a popular discussion concerning fish oil supplements. Read through it and see if you have an experience or advice to share.

jennyjengin: I am starting my 9-year-old ADHD son on fish oil. I would like to hear from anyone who has tried this alternative treatment. Also, has anyone found a 1 gram capsule that is not the size of the Hindenburgh? Thank-you, Jen

Anni: Hi Jen:

Welcome to the ADDitude forums - I’m glad you found us. ADDitude has a great article about omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplements in particular that you should check out - about 20 ADDitude readers have responded to the article with tons of tips and advice re: the capsules that work for them and their children. I think this would be a great first step for you…

Fish Oil to the Rescue for ADHD Symptoms: Explaining an Alternative Treatment: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1684.html

Also, ADDitude just recently released a free report all about alternative adhd treatments including fish oil that you should download: http://www.additudemag.com/RCLP/sub/2729.html

I hope this helps!

Terry5003: This is only part of a study about Omega 3 & Omega 6 oils. I would be glad to send the complete works to anyone that wants it. Here are a couple of important points. The body can make all the EPA and DHA is needs of supplied with the Parent Omega 3 oils. Fish oils may over load the system with too much. Personally I would rather my body make what it needs instead of the POTENTIAL to be overloaded. Omega 6 oils have been overlooked because it has been determined there is enough in our food. One researcher has determined via science research that most of the Omega 6 oils in our diet have been damaged or completely destroyed. Omega 3 & Omega 6 are ESSENTIAL OILS.

That ¿½s right. Experiments performed between 1988 and 1992 conclusively showed abnormalities in brain tissue resulting from administration of fish oil. If anyone cared to look before issuing fish oil recommendations, here ¿½s what the researchers reported in the article titled, ¿½The Effects of Dietary n-3/n-6 Ratio on Brain Development in the Mouse: A Dose Response Study with Long-Chain n-3 Fatty Acids, ¿½10 reported: ¿½Feeding of fish oil [mainly omega-3 ¿½derivatives ¿½] to adult rats resulted in a rapid increase in levels of 22:5n-3 and 22:6n-3 as well as 20:5n-3 [omega-3 series] (which is usually present in brain in only trace amounts) with corresponding decreases in 22:5n-6 as well as 20:4n-6 [omega-6 series], suggesting that the brain may be vulnerable to an excess of long-chain n-3 PUFA [polyunsaturated fatty acid]. ¿½11 ¿½The developing brain, because of its affinity for long-chain n-3, may be particularly susceptible to such effects. ¿½ ¿½ ¿½There is particular concern that that decreases in 20:4n-6 [omega-6 series] may be associated with adverse effects. ¿½ ¿½Nevertheless, the findings may be of relevance to questions concerning the provision of long-chain n-3 FA [from fish oil] in human infant feeding. ¿½12 (emphasis added)

One must always exercise caution regarding animal studies ¿½ application to humans. However, mice make good animal models in this case since Lands et al. showed that EFA metabolism in rodents is similar to that in humans. (Lands WEM, Morris A, and Libelt B, ¿½Quantitative effects of dietary polyunsaturated fats on the composition of fatty acids in rat tissues. ¿½13) Therefore, overdosing on omega-3 can be hazardous to your brain and your health at any age.

Please do your own research about this. You and your child are to importnat. Thank you Terry Riney

magnoj: I imagine that overdosing on anything is harmful to the brain. But I hope that people who will consider using fish oil to help their children or loved ones with ADHD symptoms will not be discouraged by this previous comment. My daughter has ADHD. She took meds, had therapy and a tutor to get through high school. This summer she started to take Nordic type lemon flavored liquid unprocessed fish oil (2 teaspoon a day) and her life has changed. She feels good, has stopped procrastinating and is communicating more effectively. It is short of miraculous and there are no side effects!!! I would give it a try if you are thinking of giving it to your child. The quality and amount is extremely important. (the capsules do not seem to have the same effects) magnoj

Mom of 2 ADHD’ers: I put my son on fish oil last year when I read about it in ADDitude. He was taking 18mg Strattera in the morning and 1 fish oil pill at night, with a Multi-vit. He was on it for about 2 months, but we took him off when we noticed a marked increase in his Obsessive-Compulsive tendencies. Specifically, he started picking at the skin around his finger nails to the point of injury and infection. Upon stopping the fish oil, the OCD type stuff alleviated dramatically. I should say however, that he has a history of OCD; it did however get much worse.

This summer, he took a medication vacation and I started him on the Omega Complex from GNC. There were no increases in his OCD and I believe there was some improvement of his ADD symptoms, however marginal. I felt it really helped to stabilize his mood, not that he’s overly moody, but he didn’t get the frustrations with his symptoms as much.

School has started and he’s back on 18mg of Strattera and continuing his Omega Complex. So far, no increase in OCD and again, I see an improvement in mood and frustration levels. I ran it by his pediatrician and he ok’d it. I have to admit, I got a bit lost in that post about the studies and what not. Generally, the tone was negative, but I don’t think the final chapter has been written on this subject. I don’t like the idea of having to put my son on anything, but this world insists on conformity and I’m afraid he’s a square peg, living in a round hole world.

Replies

barleans is a thicker type liqiud and comes in several flavours like orange, strawbarry/banana and lemon. i was told that this one is good because it absorbs quicker. we’re giving it a try. so far so good.

Posted by chrystal on May 23, 2011 at 6:53pm

My son and ADD and a reading learning disability.  This fall I added fish oil (added oil to his breakfast cereal or his orange juice) as a supplement to his ADD meds.  His reading started to improve.  I’m not saying it was all the fish oil, but I do think it helped.

Posted by hprabish on May 23, 2011 at 7:18pm

Those of you interested in learning more about fish oil might want to download this free Printable from ADDitude all about the supplement:
http://www.additudemag.com/RCLP/sub/3494.html

A helpful resource, I hope!

Posted by Anni Rodgers on May 23, 2011 at 7:53pm

Warning!  Many of the commercial supplements have only a FRACTION of the EPA’s, etc. that you get from our MD specialist’s recommended Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil (1 tsp. dose daily of lemon or berry flavored liquid - not bad).  5 year old ADHD son also has mild Aspergers.  Started him and my 9 yr. old dgtr. (a few Aspie traits and mild ADD) on it a year ago.  Didn’t discuss it extensively with her prior (couldn’t with him), didn’t talk about possible effects during, and 6 weeks later, asked her out of the blue if she thought it was helping her focus.  Unhesitatingly she said yes.  So later in the day, I brought it up again, and she elaborated!  This confirmed what I thought about son; that it was helping a bit.  When we travel w/out refrigeration, I have to use SEVERAL of the other children’s chewables to equal the same content amount.

Posted by Katherine85 on May 24, 2011 at 4:10pm

Fish oil is great for brain health.
However, also understand that it is not a magical bullet.
If people try to tell you otherwise, make sure that they don’t have a stake in selling it.

Every couple years, a new guru selling it pops up.


I take mine with breakfast.
I freeze mine.
I found that it eliminates the fishy burps that I used to get.

Posted by Dr. Eric on Sep 17, 2012 at 9:14pm

There is tons of scientific, evidence-based research to show how influential omega-3 fatty acids are for brain health.  It’s hard to get high counts in a typical daily diet, so supplementing is a good option.

Be sure to check out the exact omega-3 counts in the fish oil or essential fatty acid blend you choose.  You want higher counts of DHA and EPA (omega 3’s) than omega 6 and 9’s.

Posted by Mel - NatureOptimized on Jul 10, 2013 at 9:56pm

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