Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, fish oil and flax seed, have long been known to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Recent research indicates that the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids may also include the reduction of hyperactivity and irritability in ADHD patients.
A 2007 Australian study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics followed 104 children diagnosed with ADHD for 30 weeks. During this time, the children were given 3,000 milligram Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements daily.
At the end of the 30 weeks, parents reported significant improvements in nine out of 14 behavioral indicators. Why do Omega-3s work to reduce ADHD symptoms? Researchers believe these fatty acids build the brain and brain lining, while decreasing inflammation.
Potential Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The brain is made up of 60 percent fat and needs a constant source of good fats to build it. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best fats for brain development. Myelin, the lubricant that surrounds brain neurons is also manufactured from Omega-3 fatty acids. This protective lining ensures that neurotransmitters can send and receive messages quickly and accurately. When cell membranes in the brain are clogged with bad fats found in hydrogenated oils and processed foods, the messages get jumbled. The result is lack of focus, irritability and even aggression.
The fats found in processed foods and hydrogenated oils cause inflammation, a protective reaction to stress, throughout the body. Continually high levels of inflammation can lead to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cardiovascular disease. High levels of inflammation in the brain can contribute to ADHD and other behavioral disorders in children and young adults.
In older adults, high levels of inflammation have even been proven to contribute to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, reduce this inflammation, but are often lacking in the typical American diet.
While an Omega-3 deficiency may not explain every ADHD diagnosis, researchers at Purdue University found that boys identified with ADHD had much lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in blood tests than other children. Children with the highest levels of Omega-3 fatty acids also had the highest levels of academic performance.
Pediatricians recommend taking a high-quality fish oil supplement daily. At the same time, try to eat cold water fish, such as salmon, sardines or herring at least once weekly. Eat a handful of nuts and take 1 tablespoon flax seed oil daily. Add flax seed oil to smoothies, yogurt, salad dressing or juice.
While you boost your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also important to reduce your consumption of inflammation-causing foods. Eliminate processed foods as much as possible and add more whole-grains, leafy vegetables and lean protein to your diet.
A good breakfast is especially important to get those brain neurons fired up. Eat whole-grain cereal or oatmeal, along with some yogurt and berries. Eggs, which often get a bad rap, are a great source of protein, especially when supplemented with Omega-3s.
Research continues on the potential benefits of Omega-3s for treating ADHD, but in the meantime, it’s worth taking a supplement and eating more fish. Fatty acids have well-documented health benefits, and what’s good for the body is good for the brain.
Think About Adding Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Your Diet!
Scientists have established the effectiveness of Omega 3 in a number of health areas, including your Heart, Brain, Joints, Skin, Immune system, Vision, and Digestion. Like any product on the market today there are ‘good fish oils’ and there are ‘bad fish oils’! With a bad one you may be unwittingly introducing substances into your body that you DO NOT want… such as Mercury and PCB’s for example. Xtend-Life imposes tougher standards on the purity of our fish oil than any other known manufacturer. DHA is the most important fatty acid in the human brain. High in DHA and proven to be pure and free of contaminants the Xtend-Life brand is considered to be the ‘Rolls Royce’ of concentrated Omega 3 fish oils at an affordable cost and has been enjoyed by thousands of customers in more than 40 countries for the last eight years.
This article has been written by Jane Wolff on behalf of Sopris Learning who develop learning resources for children & schools. They offer many tools & resources including a math curriculum & a reading fluency assessment.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
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