Omega-3 for ADHD Inattentive Overview

I realized just recently that I had not done a review of the Omega-3 fatty acids benefits for Inattentive ADHD and I was kind of amazed.  This is such an important ADHD supplement that I thought for certain that I had covered the topic.

I recently got asked a question about the Omega 3 fatty acids and Inattentive ADHD that I was pretty certain that I have answered in one of the posts in this blog.  I used the Primarily Inattentive ADD search box (upper left hand corner) to find the answer to this question and I realized that the answer was available but that you would have to read 4 posts to get the information.  This overview post on the Omega-3s for Inattentive ADHD is my attempt to remedy this situation. Here goes...

Perhaps the single most effective ADHD supplements are the Omega-3 fatty acids.  Studies have reported fairly consistent improvement in the ADHD inattention scores of ADHD children and adults who are taking supplemental Omega-3 fatty acids.  The Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important for brain and nerve function as well as other important bodily function.  These fatty acids are a natural substance found in fatty fish, in some seeds and nuts such as flax seed and walnuts and also in certain vegetable oils. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be taken as a dietary supplement.

The most important bits of information to remember regarding this ADHD Inattentive supplement are these.

ADHD Inattentive and Omega-3 rich food
ADHD Inattentive Omega 3 rich food

  1. Studies have shown that inattention is improved in people with ADHD who take supplemental Omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. The Omega-3 fatty acids may be poorly absorbed AND Metabolized by people with ADHD Inattentive.
  3. The ratio of fats in the diet is as important as the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids consumed. Too much intake of the "bad" fats found in foods such as deep fried offerings will totally interfere with the proper absorption and effectiveness of the Omega-3 fatty acids. Eating a high dose of 'bad' fats will nullify or decrease any benefits that might have been had from taking this ADHD vitamin/supplement. 
  4. Taking Omega-3 fatty acids in food form is ALWAYS better than taking this ADHD Inattentive supplement is pill form.
  5. Certain other vitamins such as zinc, magnesium, and vitamin C and Vitamin E play a crucial role in the metabolism and absorption of the essential fatty acids. 
  6. The essential fatty acids are prone to oxidative damage and as a result it is necessary to take dietary anti-oxidants in order to diminish this oxidative process. Vitamin E is a fat soluble anti-oxidant that can stick around for longer periods of time within our bodies and for this reason may be more beneficial as an anti-oxidant than some of the other water soluble anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin C. 
  7. Not all essential fatty acids are created equal. According to Nicholas Iverson, who writes the very comprehensive and detailed scientific ADHD Treatment Blog, the three different omega-3 fatty acids all play a role in improving ADHD. Iverson reports that "Among the omega 3-fatty acids, perhaps the most important is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The human body is unable to produce this type of fat, so it must be obtained via dietary measures. The body can then convert ALA to two other types of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid). Both DHA and EPA can be incorporated into cell membranes, giving them a more flexible conformation. Not surprisingly, all three of these omega-3's (ALA, DHA and EPA) are currently popular supplements and health-food items." Iverson also states that the ADHD vitamins/supplements called EPA may be the Omega-3 most likely to help ADHD but that all three of these Omega-3s are important in their own way.
  8. The recommended dosage of the Omega-3 fatty acids is not written in stone but most experts agree that for adults and children, a dosage of 1-3 grams of a fish oil tablet daily can help the symptoms of ADHD.
  9. According to the National Institute of Health, National Center for Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, The FDA has concluded that omega-3 dietary supplements from fish are recognized as safe but in some people they may cause minor gastrointestinal upsets, including diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, and abdominal bloating. The NIH reports that in high doses, fish oil can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and drugs used for high blood pressure.
  10. When choosing an Omega-3 fatty acid ADHD supplements, chose one that states on the bottle that it has been tested and found to be free of heavy metals such as mercury and that is guaranteed to be free of environmental toxins such as PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls.
  11. Patients should always consult with their physician before starting any ADHD vitamins or supplements.

People with Inattentive ADHD benefit from taking supplemental Omega-3 fatty acids.  ADHD Inattention test scores are improved when people with ADHD take this supplement.  The Omega-3 fatty acids should be a part of the diet of any child and adult with ADHD.


  1. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for so many things, and essential for healthy brain functioning in general, it's good to see them recognized for their impact in reducing inattentive ADD. Both parents and children should make sure that they eat enough.

  2. Still somewhat confused about the dosage. Most information I have read says to take at least 1000 mg of Omega 3s. However, a 1000 mg softgel really only contains about 300 mg of Omega 3's. I really wanted to try the Krill oil softgels, but they are a 300 mg softgel that contains only 90 mg of Omega 3s!


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