Kids with emotional issues or behavioral disorders can be challenging – defiant, disruptive, impulsive, argumentative, nervous, inattentive, or negative. Parents can find it frustrating, exhausting, and stressful. Many parents believe that only prescription medications will help alleviate the symptoms that are associated with conditions like ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, or autism.
However, a growing body of scientific evidence shows that supplementing a diet with omega-3 fatty acids improves the mental health status and quality of life for kids with behavioral and emotional issues.
Let’s take a deeper look at what the most current research says about children, behavioral and mental health, and omega-3 fatty acids.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that children and adults need for optimal physical, cognitive, and mental health. They contain 2 active compounds in omega-3s: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Children need both. Omega-3s are considered essential fatty acids because the human body doesn’t produce them naturally. They can only be derived from food or dietary supplements, such as fish oil.
Current research about omega-3s and ADD/ADHD
In an analysis of 10 studies in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers summarized 10 trials involving 699 children. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation demonstrated a small but significant effect in improving ADD/ADHD symptoms. EPA dose within supplements was significantly correlated with supplement efficacy. They concluded that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, particularly with higher doses of EPA, was modestly effective in the treatment of ADD/ADHD.
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