Cognitive Health

Fatty acid supplementation in preschoolers at risk for ADHD

Cognitive Health

Fatty acid supplementation in preschoolers at risk for ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common brain development disorder that can first appear in children as young as preschoolers.1

Because medications are not recommended in preschoolers with ADHD, other options are urgently needed.1

Here we share findings from the first scientific study to examine the effect of omega-3 + omega-6 fatty acid supplementation in preschoolers at risk for ADHD.1

What are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids?

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in foods such as fish and flaxseed.2 They are an important part of the membranes that surround each cell in your body.2 Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) & docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the two main types of omega-3 fatty acids in the body.2 For optimal brain function, a continual supply of EPA and DHA is needed.3

Omega-6 fatty acids, like gamma linolenic acid (GLA), are found in some plant oils and seeds.4 They are everywhere in the body and help your cells to function.4 It’s important to consume omega-6 fatty acids as part of a balanced diet.4

The balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is particularly important for health and development.5

What kind of study was this?

This study included 40 children who were randomly chosen to receive either two omega-3 + omega-6 fatty acid chewable capsules (containing EPA, DHA and GLA) twice a day or placebo* for 4 months.1

*A placebo in this study is a chewable capsule that looks like the omega-3 + omega-6 fatty acid capsule but doesn’t contain any omega-3 + omega-6 – it’s essentially a ‘dummy’ capsule.

Who was included in this study?

The children included in the study were aged 3 to 6 years and had symptoms of ADHD as reported by their teachers or parents. The children were not taking medications for ADHD, but were all receiving behavioural therapy.1

What did the study show?

Children taking the omega-3 + omega-6 fatty acid chewable capsules showed a significant reduction in the severity of their ADHD symptoms compared to those taking the placebo. This was true when assessed by both the parents and teachers.1

Children taking the omega-3 + omega-6 fatty acid chewable capsules also showed a significant reduction in hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention.1

Why is this study important?

This is the first study to look at the effect of fatty acid supplementation in preschool children at risk for ADHD.1

The findings give us evidence of the potential benefits of omega-3 + omega-6 fatty acids in preschool children – a group in which commonly used ADHD medications are not advised.1



  1. Döpfner M et al. J Atten Disord 2021;25:1096–106.
  2. National Institutes of Health. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fact Sheet for Consumers. Available at: Accessed April 2022.
  3. von Schacky C. Nutrients 2021;13:1074.
  4. MedlinePlus. Omega-6 Fatty Acids. Available at: Accessed April 2022.
  5. Simopoulos, AP. Biomed Pharmacother 2002;56:365-379.


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