Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Feeding the Brain

December 11, 2007 at 10:22 pm 19 comments

Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is quite popular in the treatment of autism.  A study performed on the effects of Omega-3 supplementation on autistic behaviors showed improvement in sleep, cognition, overall health, social interaction, and eye contact. 

Three types of Omega-3 fatty acids are a-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).  Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids compete with each other and it is important to keep them in the proper ratio: the ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is 1:1.  Primary sources of Omega-3s are fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, while Omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, soy, and safflower and in margarine.  Most Americans consume far too many Omega-6 fatty acids and not enough Omega-3 fatty acids, disrupting the balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3.  Many experts believe that the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 consumed by most Americans is 20:1 and some up to 50:1!  We are in desperate need of Omega-3 supplementation!

Flax seeds, walnuts, and some dark, leafy vegetables contain ALA.  Cold water oily fish such as wild salmon, cod, and sardines are excellent sources of DHA and EPA.  (Note, only wild fish should be consumed – farm raised fish are problematic for many reasons, including their high levels of Omega-6 and lower levels of Omega-3s.)  Cod liver oil and fish oil are very concentrated sources of DHA and EPA.  These oils should be purified to be free from detectable levels of mercury, lead, PCBs and other contaminants.  They should also contain vitamin E to prevent oxidation of the oils.

The list of benefits of Omega-3s is quite extensive.  Particularly relevant to the treatment of autism is the ability of Omega-3s to promote proper cellular function, and specifically the function of brain cells by enhancing brain cell membranes.  Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to promote the growth of neurons in the brain and strengthen myelin sheaths, the layer that surrounds parts of neurons in the brain. 

Omega-3s are also beneficial in maintaining energy levels, normalizing blood sugar, assisting concentration and mental clarity, promoting healthy skin (eliminating eczema), and reducing inflamation. Strong evidence shows Omega-3 supplementation helps ease anxiety and depression.  Research also establishes that it is helpful in treating ADD/ADHD and aggression.  Immune function is also benefitted by supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids. 

The list of benefits goes on and on…..With so many health-promoting factors, certainly Omega-3 supplementation should be a part of a foundational nutritional supplementation program for us all, and particularly in treating autism. 



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Treating Autism with Nutritional Supplements Gluten-free/Casein-free and Specific Carbohydrate Diet Legal Recipes – Breakfast and Dessert

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Suresh Kumar Nanda  |  January 28, 2008 at 12:13 am

    what is the recommended dose of Omega fatty acid for a 9 years old child suffering from ADHD/MR?

    • 2. Fred Gladney  |  January 22, 2010 at 5:00 pm

      Have you tried doctor recommended Moxxor? You may e-mail me for information if you like.

      This is a supplement from the pristine environment of New Zealand, nutracuetical quality, with no mercury or heavy metals.
      It is from perna canaliculus (Greenlip Mussel) which contains an array of more than 12 polyunsaturated long chain fatty acids (not just EPA and DHA). Clinically proven to be much more effective than fish oil.

      Fred Gladney
      Moxxor Partner

  • 3. acttoday  |  January 29, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Hi Suresh,

    While I cannot make any specific recommendations for your child, I will tell you some of the resources I utilized in helping my son in his path toward healing autism.

    In her book, “Children with Starving Brains”, Jaquelyn McCandless, M.D. states that fish oil supplements are recommended for all children. She suggests 500-1000 mg EPA per day and 250-500 mg of DHA a day. Also, for children who need it, Dr. McCandless recommends 50-100 mg per day of GLA. (p.123)

    Writings published by the Autism Research Institute state that children with ASD are helped with amounts of omega-3 fatty acids ranging from 20 to 60 mg per kilogram of body weight. So, for a 25 kg (55 lb) child, this would be 500 to 1500 mg per day of omega-3 fatty acids.

    Of course, each child is unique. Before starting any supplementation program, I do highly recommend consulting with a medical doctor and a certified nutritionist who can adequately address your child’s specialized nutritional needs.

    Another important fact is to ensure that the omega-3 fatty acids are produced in a manufacturing facility that utilizes stringent independent and in-house laboratories to test the raw materials at critical points in the manufacturing process. If the purist ingredients are not utilized, some omega-3 fatty acids may contain lead, cadmium, mercury or arsenic.

  • 4. My Autism treatment site  |  March 21, 2008 at 5:01 pm

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  • 5. jamal h. jamal  |  March 22, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    for how long can i use omega3 and is it safe for 2 yr. autistic having diet from gluten & casein

  • 6. acttoday  |  March 30, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    While I cannot comment on the potential safety of any particular product for a particular child, I do know that many people use omega 3 fatty acids as routine supplementation. I know of children under one year of age taking omega 3 fatty acid supplements, and some infant formulas are now including the beneficial DHA and ARA found in omega 3 fatty acids to the nutrients included.

    Remember, each child is unique, and questions regarding supplementation should be discussed with your child’s doctor.

  • 7. Going Green « Aspiesrfab's Blog  |  November 16, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    […] ed teacher noticed too, and she attributed it to a maturity spurt. The vitamins we use contain omega-3 fatty acids, […]

  • 8. Md. Raziur RAHMAN  |  January 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    let me know the role of Omega3 for improvement of Autism in all respect.

  • 9. sadolddad  |  May 30, 2012 at 8:01 am

    this is the best most potent and natural omega 3

  • 10. Amira  |  September 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    my son is Autistic and has got ADHD, Is omega 3&6 good for him? for how long and what is the side effects?

    • 11. acttoday  |  September 29, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Hi Amira,

      Thanks for your question. Although I cannot and do not claim to provide medical advice or treatment, I can help you gather information so that you, as a parent, can make wise decisions for your child.

      There is so much information about the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids and other Essential Fatty Acids. I’ll post in a week or so about the benefits of each; however, for now, I’ll make the suggestion that you look beyond the ADHD or autism community writings to look at the benefits of Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) supplementation in general. The correct forms of EFAs are important for reducing inflammation (Omega-3), protection of the brain, and cellular health. I personally believe every person in America should consider supplementing with EFAs, and specifically Omega-3s, since we tend to have an abundance of Omega-6s in our American diets. I like Carlson’s brand of fish oils the best. I do think research shows it is necessary to use capsules to prevent from oxidation. Carlson’s has been around forever and has a great repuation for purity and potency.

      While there are many causes and contributing factors to ADHD, ADD, and autism, I believe diet and nutrition are among the most important foundational issues to address. I’ll also be writing soon about some other factors, (some well-known and some not-so-well-know), so check back soon for more information!

      For now, I hope you and your family are blessed and propserous.
      Act Today – Changing Autism Tomorrow, by Acting Today.

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      I am so sorry you are having problems. I’ll look into it and see what I find out. I haven’t heard this response from anyone else. Sorry for your trouble!

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    • 17. acttoday  |  October 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm

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      Thanks again for reading and for your comment!


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Autism-Changing Tomorrow (ACT) blog is maintained to provide a place where ideas and thoughts relating to autism and treatments for autism may be exchanged. The information on Autism-Changing Tomorrow is of a general nature and is provided with the understanding that ACT or any individuals or entities associated with ACT are not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Any information in the postings, messages, articles, comments, and publications in or on the ACT blog must not be considered medical advice or recommendations and such information should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board certified physician to address individual medical needs.

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