Ask the Experts

Fish Oil Substitutes for Vegetarians with ADHD

Vegetarians with ADHD who want to get the benefits of fish oil — without eating fish — can try these substitutes.

Q: “I am a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish. What can I take instead of fish oil to get beneficial levels of omega-3 fatty acids for my ADHD?”

According to current research, EPA and DHA are the two most important omega-3 fatty acids that manage some symptoms of ADHD. For vegetarians, there are two choices for getting these important nutrients. First, you can use an algae-based omega-3 product. Most of them do not contain much EPA, which is at least as important as DHA for helping to control attention deficit symptoms. I recommend NordicNaturals Algae Omega because it has a significant amount of EPA.

The other option is to eat foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids in the form of linolenic acid. Flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are good examples. Unfortunately, many people have trouble converting linolenic acid to EPA, and especially to DHA. To increase your chances of making DHA, you may need to reduce your intake of omega-6 fatty acids from grains and vegetable oils at the same time.