Treating ADHD symptoms
A study of the effect of DHA and vitamin supplements on aggressive and impulsive behaviors showed that DHA, but not the vitamins, had a positive effect.
The study group included 200 young men, with an average age of 20 years, with no history of antisocial behavior. They were given 672 mg of DHA per day for 12 weeks. Test subjects were administered several tests before and after the supplementation period that actively measure aggressive and impulsive responses. These tests were primarily games that evaluated the ability to suppress impulsive reactions or measure impatience or the degree of aggressive responses to a stressful animation.
Results of the study showed significant improvement in scores after the DHA supplementation period.
These findings confirm previous studies that evaluated impulsivity and aggressive responses when assessed by questionnaires. This is the first study that observed the effects directly during testing situations. It also confirms the assumption and observation that DHA supplements improve attention functions in children.
Aggression and impulsivity are common symptoms in children and adolescents with a range of disruptive or antisocial behaviors and diagnoses. Children with attention problems (ADHD), autistic spectrum disorders (ASD,) and oppositional behavior all may exhibit easy frustration, intolerance, aggressive outbursts, lack of self-control, and poor impulse control.
A holistic approach
DHA supplementation is a simple way to enhance brain function and alleviate these symptoms without resorting to dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. Stimulant medications such as Adderall, Focalin, and Concerta commonly used for these children often produce significant side effects including sleep disturbance, nervous tics, and appetite suppression. Other serotonin enhancing drugs such as Zoloft and Prozac used to treat these children have serious side effects including aggravation of violent impulses and suicidal behavior.
Other holistic methods to enhance attention functions and reduce aggressive behavior in children include fortifying serotonin with tryptophan or its analogue 5HTP, decreasing glutamate levels with the amino acid theanine, and using homeopathic medicines. Seek out a holistic pediatric specialist who can develop a safe management plan for ADHD, ASD and related problems in children.
Sara-Jayne Long, David Benton. A double-blind trial of the effect of docosahexaenoic acid and vitamin and mineral supplementation on aggression, impulsivity, and stress. Human Psychopharmacology. Article first published online: 29 APR 2013