Alternative Treatment for ADHD: A Systemic Review of Polyunsaturated Fat Supplementation Interventions in Children [paper]




Rutherford, Mikhaila

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Introduction: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is usually diagnosed in childhood. The primary treatment is the use of stimulant medications. Alternative treatments have also been developed but not rigorously scientifically tested. One alternative treatment that has received publicity recently is a dietary intervention of supplementing children with polyunsaturated fatty acids, commonly known as omega-3 and omega-6/fish oil. Current scientific literature presents conflicting findings regarding the efficacy of fatty acid treatment of ADHD symptoms. This systematic review aims to summarize current randomized controlled trials that examined the use of fatty acids in the management of various cognitive and behavioral factors related to inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity in children with ADHD symptoms. Methods: The author obtained evidence from articles published between 2017 and 2022 from CINAHL, PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Medline. Papers eligible for inclusion included: full-text, peer-reviewed randomized controlled trials. Quality assessment was conducted, using Melnyk and Fineout-Overholt’s Rapid Critical Appraisal Checklists. Results: Of the 647 papers identified, 8 studies met the inclusion criteria. Common themes were 1) Omega-3 & 6 polyunsaturated fat supplementation has mild impact on a variety of ADHD symptoms and 2) Omega-3 & 6 polyunsaturated fat supplementation has very few adverse side effects. Discussion: Results suggest that fatty acid supplementation may have mild to moderate positive effects of children’s ADHD symptoms and that there are minimal side effects associated with using them for this purpose.



attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, children, diet, supplementation, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fish oils, treatment, complementary and alternative medicine


Rutherford, M. (2023). Alternative treatment for ADHD: A systemic review of polyunsaturated fat supplementation interventions in children [paper]. St. David's School of Nursing, Texas State University.


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