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Polyunsaturated fatty acids, Zinc and Magnesium Supplementation Benefits Children with ADHD

Polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular Omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are essential nutrients structural and functional components of brain cell membranes. DHA, together with EPA, (eicosapentaenoic acid) plays important roles in the central nervous system, and are essential for normal brain functioning including attention and other neuropsychological skills.

In a large observational study, research scientists monitored 810 children from 5 to 12 years of age seeking medical help for ADHD, whom have been recommended by a physician to take  omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) supplementation in combination with zinc and magnesium over a period of at least 3 months. The objective of the study was to evaluate the nutritional effects of the PUFA-zinc-magnesium combination on symptoms of attention deficit, impulsivity, and hyperactivity as well as on emotional problems and sleep related parameters. Assessment was performed by internationally standardized evaluation scales, i.e. SNAP-IV and SDQ.

After 12 weeks of supplementation, most children showed a considerable reduction in symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity/impulsivity assessed by SNAP-IV.  Further, the assessment by SDQ revealed fewer emotional problems at the end of the study period compared to baseline and also sleeping disorders. Problems with falling asleep decreased during the 12 week nutritional therapy.

Due to the poor dietary patterns in industrialized western countries, with high amounts of processed food products containing mostly very low levels of long chained omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), there is a discrepancy between desirable and actual intake of these important essential fatty acids in both adults and children. Results from this study suggest a low risk, favourable beneficial effect of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids supplementation combined with magnesium and zinc on attentional, behavioural, and emotional problems of children and adolescents.

Huss et al. Lipids in Health and Disease 2010, 9:105

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