DHA and EPA Boost Brain Function in Children with ADHD

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Researchers supplemented DHA and EPA for 1 year to children with ADHD, measuring attention, literacy, and behavior. They measured the increase in these fatty acids in the red blood cell membranes, demonstrating absorption of the nutrients. Those with the highest red blood cell levels of DHA and EPA had improved spelling, better attention, fewer behavior problems, less hyperactivity, and reduced cognitive problems.

When it comes to fat, you are what you eat. Fatty acids will accumulate in the membranes of red blood cells, accurately reflecting dietary composition of fat. The inclusion of DHA and EPA was evident in the red blood cells of the children who consumed these nutrients. Within the brain, DHA and EPA slowly accumulate over time – in this case a 1 year study. Red blood cell levels of EPA and DHA are reflective of what is likely occurring in the brain. Raising brain levels of these fatty acids in children with significant attention and behavioral issues had a significant improvement in their poor mental function.

The researchers concluded, “Increasing erythrocyte [red blood cell] DHA and EPA via dietary supplementation may improve behavior, attention, and literacy in children with ADHD.”

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