According to research publicised in online news resource Nutraingredients last week, children with ADHD have a higher deficiency of essential fatty acids (EFAs) than children without the condition. This is in spite of all groups in the study consuming roughly the same amount of omega-3 oils.
The research, carried out at the China Medical University in Taiwan, involved 21 ADHD and 21 non-ADHD children.
Writing in Clinical Psychological Science, the researchers state: “The n-3 intake and EFA deficiency severity were recorded while the children were assessed for inhibitory control, delay aversion, and temporal processing with the Go/No Go Task, Delayed Reaction Time Task, and Finger Tapping Task.”
The ADHD group was found to have more EFA deficiency symptoms and poorer performance in delay aversion and temporal processing tasks.
The research concludes: “Children with ADHD had a higher deficiency of EFAs in this study, and EFA deficiency has been shown to have a positive association with ADHD severity and delay aversion. Hence, EFA deficiency may play a role in the clinical manifestation and neurocognitive performance of children with ADHD. Longitudinal studies of n-3 supplementation in children with ADHD focusing on the impact on clinical symptoms and neurocognitive performances will be needed to further support our findings.”
When assessing why ADHD symptoms correlated negatively with omega-3 intake and positively with EFA deficiency, one explanation put forward was differences in n-3 PUFA metabolism between the two groups:
“For example, children with ADHD may have either a higher metabolic rate of n-3 or a less efficient n-3 metabolic pathway than [the control] children, resulting in lower n-3 status and more EFA deficiency symptom presentations, despite the similar intake of n-3 in both groups.”
The research backs up findings from an earlier study, Reduced Symptoms of Inattention after Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Boys with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (Dienke et al 2015).