As a disclaimer I am not an expert in either ADD or ADHD so if you are reading this, please consult a physician who is an expert is this field as well.
This blog addresses omega 3 fats, and their effect on the brain, particularly in children.
What are the omega 3’s and how do they help the brain?
The omega 3 fats are known as ALA, DHA, and EPA. ALA is predominantly found in plants with the highest concentration in ground flax seed. DHA and EPA are found in fish and fish oil.
In prehistoric times, caveman ate a diet consisting of fish, and/or beef raised on grass (versus corn, grains or soy), which provided higher amounts of omega 3 fats than the standard American diet, which provides barely 100 grams of DHA per day.
Since the brain is 60% fat by weight, an average well-nourished brain should have about 20 grams worth of the omega 3 fat DHA on board at all times, or about 20 fish oil capsules. If one consumes a regular amount of fish and/or fish oil per day this is easy to achieve.
My personal opinion is that ADD and ADHD is on the rise partly due to less omega 3 fats in the diet from all the processed food, and the way in which our animals are fed. The Western diet is associated with more ADD and ADHD, which is less common in Asian countries that have more omega 3 fats built into their diet.
If the brain is not adequately nourished, prescribing medications may not be that helpful.
It’s called feeding the body from the brain down. If the brain is happy, focused behavior is more likely to happen.
Take home message?
- If your child has ADD or ADHD there is no harm in trying some omega 3 fats. If your child is already taking medication, please check with the prescribing physician.
- If your child consumes fish three times a week a supplement may not be needed. Salmon is the highest concentration of omega 3’s at approximately 300 mg. per ounce.
- If your child is not a fish eater, I recommend Barleans Omega Swirl since it has some great flavors and can easily be put in milk and/or a smoothie as a treat. A dosage for each child varies, but I would start with at least 250-500 mg. each of DHA and EPA and then go up based on symptoms. 1-2 teaspoons of ground flax seed meets needs for ALA and can be put in the smoothie for a nutty flavor. I don’t recommend the gummy omega 3 chews which have much less concentration with added sugar.
- If your child does not mind the taste of lemon I like Carlson Lemon Fish oil and 1 teaspoon per day is adequate.
A happy Brain may lead to better behavior – what have you got to lose?