Fish Oil and Attention Deficit Disorder

Fish Oil and Attention Deficit Disorder
Can rat studies have implications for people with Attention Deficit Disorder? Maybe, but more research needs to be completed. A new study reported in Science Daily was conducted by researchers at the University of Oslo. The purpose of the study was to see if the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder in specially bred rats were reduced by adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diets.

While clinicians can agree that impulsivity and/or hyperactivity are hallmarks of Attention Deficit Disorder, the mechanisms by which people develop ADD/ADHD are not completely understood. There is definitely a genetic component. Executive function, a job of the pre-frontal cortex is compromised. Chemicals in the brain, like serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate are not processed in the same way that they are in the brains of people without Attention Deficit Disorder. Recent research has shown that nutrition can play a part in the severity of the negative symptoms of ADD in a group of people.

This multi-disciplinary study set out to find whether omega-3 fatty acids had an effect on the symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity in the rat subjects. Two groups were formed. One group was the control group. They got no omega-3 in their diet. Another group was given omega-3, even as fetal rats, since the mothers were given supplements of omega-3 when they were gestating. After the baby rats were born, the mothers fed them milk fortified with omega-3 from the food that the mothers were eating. The weaned experimental rats were also given omega-3. The control group was not.

The young experimental rats showed better concentration and less impulsivity. They were able to work a reward system better than the control rats. In biological tests, the male rats showed higher activity levels of brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters. This was not true for the female rats.

As the negative symptoms of ADD manifest themselves in people’s day-to-day lives, problems can occur. Educational opportunities can be compromised. Jobs may be lost. Some people with impulse control difficulties can abuse substances or engage in high-risk activities. These activities can sometimes lead to injuries or even criminal charges.

Human studies have shown that the most effective way to manage symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder is a multi-pronged treatment plan. Finding the right medication is especially helpful. So is behavioral therapy. Some people are susceptible to food additives. For them, identifying those food substances that negatively impact their symptoms is crucial. Exercise and meditation can free the body’s chemicals to help improve focus. What about omega-3 fatty acids? While more studies need to be completed, taking a fish oil capsule won’t hurt most people. Discuss taking this supplement with your medical professional to see what your dosage should be. Then, let us know how you think taking a bit of fish oil affects your Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms. Feel free to post in the BellaOnline Attention Deficit Disorder Forum.

University of Oslo (2013, August 23). Omega-3 reduces ADHD symptoms in rats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from
Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Kine S Dervola, Bjørg Å Roberg, Grete Wøien, Inger Lise Bogen, Torbjørn H Sandvik, Terje Sagvolden, Christian A Drevon, Espen Borgå Johansen, Sven Ivar Walaas. Marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids induce sex-specific changes in reinforcer-controlled behaviour and neurotransmitter metabolism in a spontaneously hypertensive rat model of ADHD.Behavioral and Brain Functions, 2012; 8 (1): 56 DOI: 10.1186/1744-9081-8-56

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