Can Omega 3 Help Inattentive Type ADHD?

Health Writer

There have been numerous studies on Omega 3 for treating ADHD. Some of these have been inconclusive and some have reported significant improvement in symptoms of ADHD. The most recent  study, completed at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that Omega 3 supplements helped to improve the symptoms of inattentive type ADHD more than those of other types of ADHD.

According to the  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual  (DSM) there are three types of ADHD: Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive, Predominantly Inattentive and Combined. Inattentive type ADHD is characterized by:

  • Trouble sustaining attention
  • Doesn't pay attention to details, makes careless mistakes
  • Difficulty following through on tasks
  • Trouble organizing tasks and thoughts
  • Often loses things
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetful

Symptoms of ADHD can be different in each individual and can also change over time, for example, hyperactivity might be more prevalent when young but as you mature, you might find you have a more difficult time with symptoms of inattention. The most recommended treatment for all three subtypes of ADHD is stimulant medications combined with behavioral therapy targeted to individual symptoms.

Stimulant medications are not right for everyone. Some people do not see improvement, others might find they have trouble dealing with the side effects or stimulant medications might interfere with other medications or health conditions. Some people prefer not to take stimulant medications, looking instead for alternative treatments.

The recent study shows promise of Omega 3 as a way to combat symptoms of inattentive type ADHD. There were 75 participants in the six-month study and each was given either Omega 3 or 6 or a placebo for three months. For the second three months, all of the participants were given omega 3/6. The study was double blind, meaning that neither the researchers or participants knew what they were given until after the study was completed.

The researchers did not note any significant improvements in the group as a whole, however, they did see a "clinically relevant improvement," in those who had predominantly inattentive ADHD.

There were previously  several small studies  which have shown improvement in ADHD symptoms and cognitive skills from omega 3. In an article on the  University of Maryland Medical Center's website, it states that in a study of 100 boys, "those with lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids had more learning and behavioral problems."

Our bodies do not make omega 3 even though it is important for our health. Ideally, you should get omega 3 from the foods you eat. Some common foods high in omega 3 include: flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, sardines, mackerel and salmon. However, if you don't eat enough of these foods, there are supplements available. Because omega 3 can interfere with some medications, you should always talk to your doctor before taking any dietary supplements.