May 16, 2017
By Dr. Gali Artzi, director of scientific affairs at VAYA Pharma, maker of Vayarin® PS-Omega-3 medical food
When you think of places in the body where fat is concentrated, you might think of the hips, thighs, or buttocks. How about the brain? Researchers estimate that about 60 percent of the dry weight of the brain consists of lipids, or fat. The brain loves healthy fats (or lipids) because, as one example, they are key components of cell membranes and nerve signaling that help support cellular communication.
Health conditions, disorders or diseases often correlate with brain’s lipid levels. When this happens, the body can experience a lower production of lipids or rapid breakdown of lipids that inhibits normal bodily function. For example, several studies show that patients with ADHD have lower levels of omega-3s in their blood compared to individuals without the disorder [1, 2].
Up to 45 percent of children with ADHD exhibit signs of emotional dysregulation, according to a study published in 2014 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Emotional dysregulation is marked by sensitivity to emotional stimuli, resulting in intense emotional responses and rapid, poorly controlled shifts in emotions. Signs of emotional dysregulation include mood swings, outbursts, aggression, impulsivity, and disruptiveness, among other behaviors.
Meet Crystal, age 6
School proved to be a challenge for 6-year-old Crystal** of Richmond, Va., who was diagnosed with ADHD and also experiences emotional dysregulation. She became so aggressive toward her teachers that she needed to be removed from the classroom. According to her mother, “Crystal was unable to focus while at school and this became a challenge in her academics. What’s more, our traditionally very sweet girl was no longer sweet and put her teachers and classmates in harm’s way.”
Crystal’s pediatrician suggested trying a non-drug approach, and prescribed a PS-Omega-3 medical food called Vayarin. Within four weeks of taking Vayarin, Crystal’s violent outbursts stopped and so did the calls from her teachers.
“Our very sweet girl is now able to let her personality shine at school and home,” continued Cherry. “She sings in the school choir, is able to focus on her academics and her mood swings have mellowed.”
Medical Food for Children with ADHD
Unlike traditional supplements, which are for the normal nutritional requirements of healthy individuals, a medical food such as Vayarin is specially formulated to address specific nutritional deficiencies associated with ADHD. Because children with ADHD may have a limited capacity to metabolize or absorb lipids, this distinct nutritional requirement cannot be met by simply modifying the diet or using dietary supplements. The unique lipid composition of Vayarin allows it to effectively deliver lipids to the brain, across the blood brain barrier, helping the brain to maintain a lipid balance. In a double-blind placebo controlled clinical study, this composition was shown to significantly reduce ADHD behaviors, especially in children with emotional dysregulation .
The key takeaway is that the brain loves healthy fats, or lipids; therefore, effectively addressing lipid deficiencies that cannot be addressed by changing the diet alone is an important step in managing ADHD, especially emotional dysregulation.
*Because every child is unique, individual results will vary and may take up to 90 days. Vayarin is a non-drug, prescription medical food intended for the dietary management of lipid imbalances associated with ADHD and use only under medical supervision.
**Name has been changed to protect the family’s privacy
- Young, G.S., N.J. Maharaj, and J.A. Conquer, Blood phospholipid fatty acid analysis of adults with and without attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Lipids, 2004. 39(2): p. 117-23.
- Antalis, C.J., et al., Omega-3 fatty acid status in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 2006. 75(4-5): p. 299-308.
- Manor, I. , et al., The effect of phosphatidylserine containing Omega3 fatty-acids on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, followed by an open-label extension. Eur Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;27(5):335-42.