[The treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders with polyunsaturated fatty acids - an effective treatment alternative?]

Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother. 2008 Mar;36(2):109-16. doi: 10.1024/1422-4917.36.2.109.
[Article in German]


Objectives: Both omega-3 and omega-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have a substantial impact on human brain development and function. However, in western industrial countries omega-3 LC-PUFA in particular are often lacking in diets. Increasing evidence indicates that LC-PUFA imbalance or deficiencies may be associated with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) through involvement in the dopaminergic corico-striatal metabolism. Preliminary study result suggest that dietary supplementation with LC-PUFA might be effective in the treatment of ADHD.

Methods: This review summarizes the knowledge in terms of a hypothesized pathogenetic relationship between fatty acid metabolism and ADHD and discusses the possible clinical benefit of a primary or combined treatment with LC-PUFA.

Results: Actually it is unclear whether a deficit in intake or metabolism of LC-PUFA may play a major role in the pathogenesis of ADHD. Moreover treatment studies yielded conflicting results. A combination of Omega-3 and Omega-6 - fatty acids might attenuate the symptoms of ADHD significantly, thus making this dietary intake useful.

Conclusions: Considerable research has to be done in the future to identify ideal therapeutic combinations and dosages of various fatty acids, and to develop reliable ways of defining those individuals to benefit from this treatment access.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / physiology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / physiology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Personality Assessment
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Dopamine