Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
Could omega-3 -6 and -9 help with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?
A: EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) are fat compounds that are called essential because they each serve critical functions within the body; they are also critical because the human body cannot create them and must obtain it from food sources.
Omega-3, found in flax seed and cold-water fish oil, controls blood sugar by regulating the insulin sensitivity mechanism.
Omega-6 (GLA) found in evening primrose and borage seed oil activates brown fat cells, which are also essential for fat metabolism.
Omega-9 is really not an essential fatty acid. There are two sources of omega-9, oleic acid found in olive oil and erucic acid found in rapeseed and mustard seed oils. An ample supplementation of omega-3 and -6 will ensure your body can manufacture the omega-9.
There is still research to determine the role of EFAs in behavioral and mental development in children. I would suggest that if you notice some of the related symptoms of EFA deficiency in an ADHD child, such as eczema, dry skin, asthma, thirst, frequent urination, or allergies, then perhaps EFAs could help. As a practical matter, it is always a good idea to provide ample omega 3 supplements to growing children from ages three to nine.