Using Omega-3 Supplements for Autism: Will It Help?

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Omega-3 supplements are often recommended for people with autism and other developmental disabilities because the fatty acids have been shown to improve brain function. But studies show that many children don’t consume enough of this nutrient in their diets, so parents and caregivers may need to supplement it accordingly.

Omega-3 supplements have been found to help people with autism. People are wondering if they should use these supplements for their children and what the best way to administer them is.


Children with autism typically struggle to receive adequate nourishment due to eating issues, which include food aversions, strong preferences for a small number of foods, and rituals or repeated behaviors related to food or mealtimes.

Dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, are one of the most frequent methods for parents to ensure their children receive adequate nutrition, particularly if their children on the autistic spectrum refuse to consume enough healthful food.

Including omega-3 fatty acids in a child’s diet may have some advantages for children with autism, such as improving memory, concentration, and general physical health. However, there is just anecdotal evidence for this, with little academic studies to back it up. Despite data indicating that omega-3 supplements may help with autism, some parents report significant changes in their children’s behavior when they use them.

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids and What Do They Do?

Fish and flaxseed, for example, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. They may also be consumed as a nutritional supplement known as omega-3 or fish oil.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found predominantly in flaxseed, canola, and soybean oils; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is found in seafood; and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is mostly found in seafood like shellfish. These acids are necessary for your health because they sustain cell membranes throughout the body.

It’s important to have enough omega-3 for the following reasons:

  • Cardiovascular health is important.

  • Infant development and health.

  • Breast and colorectal cancer risk is reduced.

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease risk are reduced.

  • Improved cognitive performance.

  • Macular degeneration and dry eye are less likely to occur.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis risk is reduced.

Is there such a thing as too much?

Getting adequate omega-3 fatty acids may also help with ADHD, pediatric allergies, and cystic fibrosis symptoms. To control triglycerides, some persons are given specific amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Despite its many advantages, ingesting excessive dosages of omega-3 fatty acids may cause bleeding difficulties via thinned blood, as well as affecting immune system function. Other possible adverse effects include:

  • Bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

  • Heartburn.

  • Nausea and stomach pains

  • Diarrhea, constipation, and other gastrointestinal issues.

  • Headaches.

  • Sweat that stinks.

Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids are widely thought to be beneficial, but since they are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), their claims are seldom backed up by scientific evidence.

Even yet, roughly 10% of individuals in the United States use omega-3 nutritional supplements. Many parents provide these supplements to their children in order to boost their general health.

Childhood Autism Symptoms & Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Research Shows a Tenuous Link

In rare cases, a lack of omega-3 fatty acids during fetal development may lead to an increased risk of autism in children. A lack of omega-3 fatty acids in a pregnant woman’s diet has been linked to:

  • Myelination changes in neurons in the brain.

  • Synaptic development and neurogenesis

  • Brain connection and neurotransmitter turnover

  • Reactions that cause inflammation.

  • The ability to think and behave.

Some parents may believe that if autism is linked to a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy, they may give their kid this supplement as they grow older to help their brain and body develop more effectively. While receiving adequate omega-3 is critical for a child’s development, there is no strong relationship between omega-3 shortage during pregnancy or early infancy and the particular developmental problem of autism.

Some modest studies show that omega-3 dietary supplements may help some children with autism improve their behaviour. Combining vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, reduced various symptoms linked with autism in around 27 studies including 1,028 children diagnosed with the disorder. Communication, socializing, and repeated habits are among the symptoms.

Another small research found that a combination of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D might help children with autism manage behavioral symptoms such as hyperactivity and impatience. The research included 111 children ranging in age from 2 to 8. They took part in this vitamin treatment for a year (one year).

The youngsters with autism who took the vitamin and omega-3 combo had less irritation and hyperactivity than the placebo group. However, the research could not demonstrate how this impact functioned decisively.

The Best Treatment for Autism Symptoms Is Still Behavioral Therapy

Encourage your kid to consume a broad variety of healthful foods to ensure that he or she receives adequate nourishment, including omega-3 fatty acids. Because many children with autism have eating difficulties, finding the optimum mix of behavior therapy and medical treatment to enhance their behaviors and expand their nutritional options is critical.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists may help your kid transition from maladaptive behaviors like food aversions to more adaptive behaviors like food acceptance and broadened food preferences. Positive reinforcement is used by ABA therapists to induce behavioral change, and they may help you continue this practice during regular meals.

You should also consult with your child’s physician to rule out any gastrointestinal problems. Gastrointestinal difficulties are common in children with autism, and this pain may be linked to a specific diet. This might lead to rejection of that food, as well as similar meals; tantrums at mealtime; and rejection of a larger variety of foods they used to consume.

While some of these disorders need behavioral changes, it is critical to address the physical causes of the pain. If your child’s digestive tract is in better shape, he or she will be less physically uncomfortable, which will improve their behavior.

A Personal Decision

The evidence for the usefulness of omega-3 supplementation in treating autistic symptoms is equivocal. Anecdotal evidence shows it may assist with certain autistic symptoms, although research in this area is currently limited.

If you want to try omega-3 supplements to help your kid with autism symptoms, speak to their physician or other professionals who deal with them. Most physicians will not consider the practice harmful as long as you follow the dose instructions.

Omega-3 supplements are unlikely to have a substantial impact on your child’s symptoms. Prioritize autism therapies that have been shown to work, such as ABA therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.


Omega-3 supplements are a popular treatment for autism. The “omega-3 6 9 autism” article discusses the benefits and uses of omega-3 supplements for people with autism.

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