How Omega 3 can help children with ADHD
ADHD affects between 3-7% of children, with boys being at least 3 times more likely to suffer than girls. There continues to be research into the connections between diet and ADHD, in particular Omega 3 and ADHD, which further supports the long-held view that diet and Omega 3 have a beneficial effect on reducing the symptoms of ADHD.
Nutritional programmes are most effective when the family and child are supported by other disciplines too, such as school based interventions and behavioural specialists.
A large analysis of 10 different clinical trials was published this summer, and concluded that Omega 3 supplements had a positive effect on reducing symptoms of children with ADHD. A further study published this year, in Neuropsychopharmacology, looked at 7 random controlled trials that studied more than 500 children and teens with ADHD. The children were split into two groups and were given either an Omega 3 supplement or a placebo.
The results showed that parents of the children taking a daily Omega 3 dosage reported decreased levels of hyperactivity compared to the placebo group. Additional results showed better cognitive performance and show the positive effect of a dosage of 480mg of DHA (the active ingredient of Omega 3) on cognition, behaviour and mood. This is the same Omega 3 dosage in a 1ml serving of Bare Biology’s Super Hero. Based on this, we believe our Super Hero Omega 3 supplement is one of the best fish oils and Omega 3 supplements for kids with ADHD.
Diet advice for kids with ADHD
The effect of sugar on a child’s behaviour is also well documented. Sugar in the form of glucose is the only fuel the brain can use, but the brain doesn’t function well if it’s fed too much sugar, as a sugar high often leads to a low. Sugar is highly excitatory. It stimulates what we call the dopamine reward system in the brain, which can create addictive-like behaviour. High sugar foods encourage ‘blood sugar rollercoasters’, causing a spike of activity that can often cause a lack of concentration with an inability to sit still; followed by a low which can then lead to irritability and aggressive behaviour.
Watch out for hidden sugar foods too. A 100g Petit Filou yoghurt pot contains a whopping 12.2g, small raisin packets contain 10g sugar and Innocent Kids smoothies, the smaller cartons, (Oranges, Mangos and Pineapples, 180ml) have 20g sugar, 24% of a children’s daily recommended allowance.
Top 5 tips to help with symptoms of ADHD:
- Gradually reduce colourings and additives. Children ‘know what they like and like what they know’, so introduce new low additive foods along with their usual foods so they gradually get used to them. It can take up to 8 times for a child to try a new food, so I would recommend perseverance!
- Gradually reduce sugar. Add more protein into the diet to minimise blood sugar rollercoasters. It will also help them feel more satisfied and cooked, rather than raw food, can help them feel calmer.
- Increase Omega 3 rich foods as another source of protein (small oily fish, nuts, seeds) and use a good quality supplement like Super Hero.
- Add foods rich in iron, zinc and calcium, from plenty of greens (start with a leaf and work up!), lean red meat and poultry. If they find it hard to wind down before bed, Epsom bath salts added to a warm bath can be helpful.
- Children aged 5-15 spend on average 6 hours a day in front of a screen (4). Blue light from screens can interfere with brain waves and can cause sleep issues – gaming can increase the dopamine reward centre in the brain so limit its use as much as possible (easier said than done!). Or, if they play, match this time with exercise so they literally ‘run off’ the effects of the dopamine!
Read our guide about how Omega 3 fish oil can help with ADHD.