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Omega 3 Info

ADHD fish oil

ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a term used to describe a set of behaviour problems that include hyperactivity, acting impulsively and an inability to concentrate for any length of time.  It affects many more boys than girls and because of the difficulty a person with ADHD has in focusing on or carrying out specific tasks; it can interfere with their progress at school.

Fish oil contains the essential Omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) both of which are required for healthy brain development and function.  These are essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce itself so it has to source them from diet. Omega 3’s can be found in high quantities in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna.  Most of us are not getting enough of the Omega 3’s in our diet, and instead, we are consuming far too much of Omega 6 fatty acids, which can be found in plentiful supply in vegetable oils such as corn oil and sunflower oil, meat products and processed foods.

EPA helps the brain to function and increases the blood flow around the body, including blood flow to the brain. The brain is constructed mostly of DHA, which is vital for healthy brain development in the early years.  Both EPA and DHA are equally important but we can produce DHA if we are getting enough EPA.

If there is a lack of the right kind of fatty acids that the brain needs to develop and function properly, such as EPA, it will try to build replacement fatty acids with what it has to work with.  This is obviously not ideal if we are not getting the right kind of fats through diet. Some studies have shown high levels of these replacement fatty acids in children with ADHD and this would appear to be linked to a diet rich in Omega 6 fatty acids and deficient in Omega 3’s. Males also need more essential fatty acids than females, which could explain why ADHD is more common in boys.

The health benefits of taking fish oil supplements are now well documented and the UK government is currently considering giving fish oil to schoolchildren as part of a general initiative to improve nutrition. Several studies conducted in the UK showed that children taking high EPA fish oil had increased concentration levels, improved their exam results and demonstrated less hyperactive behaviour in the classroom. Research continues but there is a growing awareness of how high EPA fish oil can help to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD and other brain related disorders. One Australian study even suggested that fish oil could be just as effective as Ritalin in treating ADHD, and perhaps even more so.

Eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA

Very simply put EPA is one of the most important omega 3 nutrients. It can be found in large quantities in certain fish, and in very high quantities in certain fish oil supplements .

Eicosapentaenoic acid: Is one of the principal omega 3 fatty acids. Abbreviated EPA. The body has a limited ability to manufacture EPA by converting the alpha-linolenic acid ( ALA) which is found in flaxseed oil, canola oil or walnuts. ALA is also an omega 3 essential fatty acid; it is the parent fatty acid to EPA.

Eicosapentaenoic (EPA)

Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, is a major component of fish oil. It is a long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid of the n-3 or omega-3 type. EPA is an all cis polyunsaturated fatty acid containing 20 carbons and 5 double bonds. EPA is also known as EPA; C20: 5n-3 and cis-5, 8, 11, 14,17-eicosapentaenoic acid. The structural formula is as follows :

CONTRAINDICATIONS

None known

ADVERSE REACTIONS

There have been no reports of serious adverse events in those taking EPA supplements, even up to 15 grams daily, for prolonged periods of time

OVERDOSAGE

None known.

Health Benefit of fish oil

The extraordinary health benefits of fish oil were first discovered back in the early 1970’s when doctors in Denmark studied Eskimos living in Greenland.  They noticed that they had fewer heart attacks and a much lower incidence of arthritis than the Danish, despite the fact that they ate a high fat diet. Studies from all over the world, have since shown that the health benefits come from the Omega 3 essential fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  These are found in the fatty tissue of fish that the Eskimos ate in very high quantities.

Traditionally, man ate a diet that was equally balanced between Omega 6 and Omega 3 essential fatty acids on a ratio of 1:1.  Today it is estimated that this ratio is more like 25:1 and sometimes even as high as 50:1, with a whopping 85% of the population consuming too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3. This is having a disastrous effect on the health of the population, leading to a higher incidence of cancers, particularly hormonal cancers, inflammatory diseases and allergies.

Essential fatty acids are essential in that they are necessary for the body to survive, but the body cannot produce them itself, it has to rely on dietary sources.  Unfortunately, Omega 6 is in plentiful supply in our diets today; however, the Omega 3 fatty acids, that are so essential for our wellbeing, can only be found in fish oil and not much else. Both Omega 6 and Omega 3 have very different roles in the body and it is this imbalance that needs to be rectified, either by eating more fish or taking fish oil supplements.  This becomes alarmingly clear when we consider that the Omega 6 fatty acids behave in such a way that they encourage tumour growth, help the blood to clot and promote inflammation whereas the Omega 3 fatty acids do the opposite.

Fish oil can benefit the heart, the mind and the body all at the same time.  Studies show it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, has demonstrated significant success in the treatment of depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD as well as numerous other conditions, and acts as an immune booster to promote general health.  It has also been found to improve concentration and memory. A recent article in The Sunday Times revealed that the UK government is considering giving fish oil capsules to schoolchildren as due to a rise in the use of convenience and processed foods, they are not receiving an adequate supply of Omega 3.

One pilot study in Bradford, where pupils were given fish oil on a daily basis, resulted in 81% of pupils showing an improvement in reading, 67% in writing and 74% in Maths.  Another study in Lancashire showed that pupils who took fish oil for 3 months before their GCSE exams managed to achieve one grade higher than what would have been expected.

Food for thought indeed.

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