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ADHD - The Omega 3 Connection

By
Lynne Brown
BSc Hons, HDE, Dip Clin Nutr

There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good she was very, very good,
And when she was bad
She was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

This is quote from the British Satirical Magazine, Private Eye. Amusing maybe but also very sad, and makes me wonder how often a perfectly normal child is diagnosed with ADHD.

Ritalin

ADHD is characterized by impulsive behavior, inability to concentrate, short attention span, ease of distraction, and hyperactivity. The number-one drug used to treat ADHD is Ritalin, a central nervous system stimulant. ADHD drugs are known to carry serious side effects, including insomnia, changes in personality, heart attack, stroke and even sudden death. This is not the right platform for me to rant on about my dislike of drugs of any form so if you’d like to read more about the dangers posed by Ritalin see: www.breggin.com/ritalin.html

Ritalin deficiency?

Is it possible we are breeding a new generation of children who are Ritalin deficient? Highly unlikely. Try this theory rather:  ADHD is caused by the food that children of this generation are putting into their mouths. How do we expect a child to have normal behaviour if he is fed refined grains, sugars, processed foods loaded with chemicals, juices and fizzy drinks? Then add to that 90 percent fewer vegetables than required along with an overabundance of omega-6 fats and a virtual lack of omega-3 fats.

Fish oil does it again

A study by the University of Adelaide in Australia found that fish oil improves the symptoms of ADHD more effectively  than drugs like Ritalin and Concerta  and without any of the side effects.

When 130 children between the ages of 7 and 12 with ADHD were given fish oil capsules daily, behaviour dramatically improved within three months. Furthermore, after seven months, the children were not as restless and showed improvements at school in concentration and attention, reading abilities and vocabulary. When the researchers compared their results to studies of Ritalin and Concerta for ADHD, they found that fish oils were more effective.

This poses the question: “Why treat millions of ADHD kids with drugs more powerful than cocaine when a simple food change is far more effective?”  - I leave that one for you to think about.

The cleverness capsule

The Daily Mail reported the following on 10 May 2005: “Jamie Oliver may be responsible for revolutionising school dinners, but now it seems one simple change to children's diet could not only boost their brain power but also make them better behaved.  A major new study found that a daily dose of fish oil supplements had a dramatic effect on the abilities of underachieving children in Durham.” Apart from the fact that parents reported a significant improvement in their behaviour, after just three months on the fish oils, they were reading at 18 months above their age.  In addition, most of the pupils showed a 10 – 20% improvement in memory. The supplement was also given to children without behavioural or learning difficulties and in some of these cases a dramatic and even immediate effect was reported.

Numerous studies

Numerous studies conducted in all parts of the world on the effect of supplementing with Omega-3 from fish oils have shown similar results leaving a strong suggestion that some children with developmental problems, including ADHD and dyslexia, can benefit from taking omega-3 supplements. And no adverse effects have been reported to date. Researchers believe that fish oil works via effects on brain function. You simply cannot have a healthy functioning brain in a child that is not given the proper ingredients to develop optimal brain function.

What else is needed?

If you have a child with learning or behavioural difficulties, before you allow him or her to be labeled ADHD and placed on Ritalin, it may be worth giving fish oil a chance. However this will need to go hand-in–hand with a healthy diet and a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. All the fish oil in the world is not going to help a child who is still being fed junk food.

Further reading:  Diet and delinquency

Disclaimer: All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional.  All serious disease needs a physician.

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