Scientists have known for a very long time that the omega-3 essential fatty acid DHA is essential to brain growth in children.
They have known for a very long time that the omega-3 essential fatty acid EPA is essential for limiting inflammation that, among other things, can send too much information to a young brain.
Scientists are only beginning to tell us how to use omega-3 essential fatty acids to help control ADHD.
German Scientists Organize an ADHD Supplementation Experiment
Scientists at three organizations in Germany developed a nutritional supplement containing omega-3 essential fatty acids, magnesium, and zinc. This food supplement did not contain megadoses of any of the three ingredients.
Too much magnesium (which is the active ingredient in Milk of Magnesia) and too many omega-3 essential fatty acids at one time often cause stomach upset and diarrhea, which are hardly helpful to children who have ADHD.
The scientists then gave the supplement or a placebo to 815 children and followed the results for up to six months.
Only about 8% of the children received any kind of medication; in Germany, homeopathy is considered a medical treatment, and four of the children were receiving a homeopathic mixture of chamomile dil., potassium phosphoricum, staphisagria, and valeriana.
Omega-3 for Kids with ADHD - Do Omega-3's, Magnesium, and Zinc Help ADHD?
The German researchers found improvement in several important areas.
Impulsivity is a major problem in ADHD. Treatment with the supplement resulted in signficant declines in impulsivity, especially in boys under the age of six.
Hyperactivity is a hallmark of ADHD. Treatment with the supplement resulted in less hyperactivity in children of all ages, but the effects were most noticeable in children aged four to six.
Children with ADHD often have emotional problems. Treatment with the supplement did not result in any child having no emotional problems at all, but both boys and girls were rated as better adjusted on psychological tests given 30 to 180 days after starting the supplement. The effects were equal in both sexes.
Well-rested children are more likely to be calmer throughout the day. The researchers found that their nutritional supplement helped children fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Girls with ADHD and older children with ADHD have more sleep problems, and were helped more by the supplement. The scientists believe that the omega-3 essential fatty acids help the brain make melatonin.
The German researchers noted that a few children seemed to have problems that could possibly be side effects of the supplement. One child developed a stomach ache, one child had nausea (on a single occasion), and one developed a rash—out of the 815 children in the study.
How You Can Use These Supplements with Your Child
The drawback to this research is that the ESPRICO chewable capsule the researchers gave the children in the test is not available commercially. However, you can approximate the nutritional content of the capsule by making sure your child gets:
- A daily dose of Xtend Life Fish Oil for Kids,
- A daily dose of Xtend Life Total Balance Multivitamins for Children.
These products provide the needed nutrients in the right amount, and they also provide them in the right form.
Adult digestive tracts can handle capsules. Children's digestive tracts are shorter, and the capsule doesn't have a chance to break down before it is lost to bowel movement.
Children's supplements need to be chewable. Liquids, on the other hand, tend to react with the air in the bottle and lose their potency. Chewable vitamin and mineral products are best. (Always keep any chewable multivitamin that contains iron carefully away from your child to avoid iron overdose, which is not a problem with the X-tend life formula.)
What kind of results should you expect? Miracles won't happen overnight, but measurable progress should be observed after about a month. Full benefit of the nutritional intervention takes about six months.
Huss M, Völp A, Stauss-Grabo M. Supplementation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium and zinc in children seeking medical advice for attention-deficit/hyperactivity problems - an observational cohort study. Lipids Health Dis. 2010 Sep 24;9:105.