ADHD News & Research

New Study: Omega-3s Decrease Aggressive Behavior in Children

Researchers find that omega-3 supplements reduce aggression, fighting, lying, anxiety and depression in kids after 12 months of use – promising news for parents.

Posted Monday, May 18th, 2015

Could a daily fish oil supplement help curb some symptoms of ADHD in kids, and improve bad behavior? This question has been on the minds of parents and adults with the condition for years. Previous research found that supplements rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids improved behavior and reading skills. New research adds more evidence; it suggests the supplement can reduce common problems like aggression and lying as well.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania evaluated 200 children between the ages of eight and 16 for more than 12 months. Half of the group took an omega-3 supplement in a juice drink, and the rest received a juice drink without the supplement. The researchers checked in at six months and 12 months to assess the children’s levels of omega-3s and their behavioral progress. They found that children who received the supplement had higher levels of omega-3s than did the control group, and they were less aggressive and antisocial – as measured by a series of assessments and questionnaires collected periodically throughout the study.

The children were evaluated on “externalizing” behavior — being aggressive, antisocial, starting fights, lying — and “internalizing” behavior – feeling depressed, anxious, or withdrawn. Children self-reported no change. By 6 months, parents reported improvements in both groups. After a year, the control group had returned to baseline, but the group receiving the supplement had showed a continued decrease in antisocial and aggressive behavior.

The researchers caution that more studies are required to explore whether the improvement continues after one year, but they are hopeful that omega-3s will be shown to consistently improve behavior for children.