Ask the Experts

What’s the Right Fish Oil Dosage for My Child?

“What’s the recommended daily dose of fish oil to help my son manage his symptoms of attention deficit?”

We have not determined exact dosages for kids. The studies1 done on omega-3s for ADHD have used a wide range of doses. I base my dosage on the total amounts of EPA and DHA in the fish oil product. You can almost always find this listed in the ingredients section. For younger children, between four and eight years old, I recommend a dose of 1,000-1,500 milligrams of EPA and DHA. (If a product has 750 mg. of EPA and 500 mg. of DHA, the total would be 1,250 mg.) For older children, I recommend 2,000-2,500 milligrams.

Consider the ratio of EPA to DHA when buying a product. I recommend using a product with about twice as much EPA as DHA. I do not recommend using a product containing only DHA or EPA. Studies indicate that it is important for patients to have both.

Liquid or capsule forms of omega-3 fatty acids are best. The gummy and chewable versions have lower amounts of EPA and DHA. Your child would have to take too many of them to reach the recommended dosage.

Sandy Newmark, M.D., is a member of ADDitude’s ADHD Medical Review Panel.

[Free Download: Fish Oil Supplements for Children with ADHD]

1 Johnson, M., S. Ostlund, G. Fransson, B. Kadesjo, and C. Gillberg. “Omega-3/Omega-6 Fatty Acids for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial in Children and Adolescents.” Journal of Attention Disorders, vol. 12, no. 5, 2009, pp. 394-401.