Free access
Reprod. Nutr. Dev.
Volume 45, Number 5, September-October 2005
Page(s) 549 - 558
Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 45 (2005) 549-558
DOI: 10.1051/rnd:2005045

Effect of randomized supplementation with high dose olive, flax or fish oil on serum phospholipid fatty acid levels in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Genevieve S. Younga, Julie A. Conquera and René Thomasb

a  Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 5B6, Canada
b  Adopt A Patient Foundation, PO Box 2171, Methuen, MA 01844, USA

(Received 16 October 2004; accepted 21 December 2004)

Abstract - Dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been positively correlated with cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric health in several studies. The high seafood intake by the Japanese and Greenland Inuit has resulted in low ratios of the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6) to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3), with the Japanese showing AA:EPA ratios of approximately 1.7 and the Greenland Eskimos showing ratios of approximately 0.14. It was the objective of this study to determine the effect of supplementation with high doses (60 g) of flax and fish oils on the blood phospholipid (PL) fatty acid status, and AA/EPA ratio of individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), commonly associated with decreased blood omega-3 fatty acid levels. Thirty adults with ADHD were randomized to 12 weeks of supplementation with olive oil (< 1% omega-3 fatty acids), flax oil (source of alpha-linolenic acid; 18:3n-3; $\alpha$-LNA) or fish oil (source of EPA and docosahexaenoic acid; 22:6n-3; DHA). Serum PL fatty acid levels were determined at baseline and at 12 weeks. Flax oil supplementation resulted in an increase in $\alpha$-LNA and a slight decrease in the ratio of AA/EPA, while fish oil supplementation resulted in increases in EPA, DHA and total omega-3 fatty acids and a decrease in the AA/EPA ratio to values seen in the Japanese population. These data suggest that in order to increase levels of EPA and DHA in adults with ADHD, and decrease the AA/EPA ratio to levels seen in high fish consuming populations, high dose fish oil may be preferable to high dose flax oil. Future study is warranted to determine whether correction of low levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is of therapeutic benefit in this population.

Key words: omega-3 fatty acids / fish oil / flax oil / attention deficit hyperactivity disorder / adults

Corresponding author: Julie A. Conquer

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2005

What is OpenURL?

The OpenURL standard is a protocol for transmission of metadata describing the resource that you wish to access.

An OpenURL link contains article metadata and directs it to the OpenURL server of your choice. The OpenURL server can provide access to the resource and also offer complementary services (specific search engine, export of references...). The OpenURL link can be generated by different means.

  • If your librarian has set up your subscription with an OpenURL resolver, OpenURL links appear automatically on the abstract pages.
  • You can define your own OpenURL resolver with your EDPS Account.
    In this case your choice will be given priority over that of your library.
  • You can use an add-on for your browser (Firefox or I.E.) to display OpenURL links on a page (see You should disable this module if you wish to use the OpenURL server that you or your library have defined.