Researchers at King & # 39; s University of London and Chinese Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan, found that omega-3 fish oil supplements improve attention in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but only among those with low levels of omega-3s in their blood.
Researchers say their results carry a personalized approach to medicine for psychiatry, demonstrating that omega-3 only works for some children with ADHD. Previous studies in the same group found that children with omega-3 deficiency were more likely to have more severe ADHD.
In a randomized controlled trial, 92 children with ADHD aged 6-1
Researchers found that children with the lowest levels of EPA in the blood showed improvement in focused attention and alertness after taking omega-3 supplements, but these improvements were not observed in children with normal or high levels of EPA in the blood. In addition, for these children with high pre-existing levels of EPA in the blood, omega-3 supplements have negative effects on the symptoms of impulsivity.
Researchers warn that parents should consult with medical professionals before choosing to give their children omega-3 supplements. Omega-3 deficiency can be identified by the presence of dry and flaky skin, eczema and dry eyes and can be confirmed by a blood test like the one performed in this study (although currently a blood test is available for research purposes only)
Previous studies have found inconsistent findings for omega-3 supplementation for ADHD symptoms, with the overall effect sizes being relatively small. Standard treatments offered to parents whose children have ADHD include stimulants such as methylphenidate. The magnitude of the effect of improving the alertness and alertness of methylphenidate is 0.22-0.42. In comparison, the effect sizes of the omega-3 supplement test for these children with low blood levels of EPA are greater, 0.89 for focused attention and 0.83 for vigilance.
Dr. Jane Chang, Principal Investigator at the Kings Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, said: "Our findings show that fish oil supplements are at least as effective for attention as conventional pharmacological treatments among those children with ADHD who have omega-3s deficit. On the other hand, there may be too much of a good thing and parents should always consult their children's psychiatrists, as our study suggests that there may be negative consequences for some children.
Professor Carmine Pariant, a senior researcher at the Kings Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, says: "Omega-3 supplements only work in children who have lower levels of EPA in their blood, as if the intervention was filling in the lack of this important nutrient. For these children with omega-3 deficiency fish oil supplements may be the preferred option for standard stimulant treatments. Our study sets an important precedent for other nutritional interventions and we can begin to bear the benefits of personalized psychiatry for children with ADHD. "
The study was conducted in Taiwan, where diets often contain a lot of fish compared to diets in Europe and North America. Most studies of children with ADHD conducted to a large extent in Western countries show average levels of EPA in the blood that are lower than in this study.
Professor Quan-Ping Su, a co-researcher at the Chinese Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan, says: "High levels of EPA in the blood without the use of supplements can be achieved through a good, high-fat diet, which is common in some Asian countries like Taiwan and Japan. EPA deficiency may be more common among children with ADHD in countries with less fish consumption, such as in North America and many countries in Europe, and therefore the addition of fish oil may be more widespread benefits for treating the condition than in our study. "
Fish oil supplements have no effect on anxiety and depression
Translational Psychiatry (2019). Doi: 10.1038 / s41398-019-0633-0, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-019-0633-0
King's College London
Omega-3 fish oil is as effective for attention as ADHD medicines for some children (2019, November 19)
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