A Chain Reaction – Lipid Imbalances, Emotional Dysregulation and ADHD

 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.


Lipid Imbalances

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].


Emotional Dysregulation

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 [3].

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



  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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19 Responses to A Chain Reaction – Lipid Imbalances, Emotional Dysregulation and ADHD

  1. Clare MacDonald says:

    Hello, I am late to this conversation. Has anyone tried Vayarin Plus? Considering for my child with ADHD.
    Any information on where this medical food is manufactured would be appreciated, too. Thank you!

  2. Nancy says:

    Why is it necessary for the Doctor to prescribe this brain food?

  3. Lewine says:

    Please give me more info on this I have a granddaughter that most of the time she mean she goes being nice to being mean no matter what we tell her to keep her hands to her self she don.t she gets but she has hard time she 5 years old we have doctor appt to see what we can do for her

  4. Andrea Mercier says:

    Has anyone tried Biophoton therapy for ADHD, or other conditions such as Mast cell dysregulation, and neurological disorders, pathway disorders. A photon energy machine is used along the bodies meridian similar to accupuncture but with photons. I believe that with all of the interference in our magnetic field and the various toxic insults to our cellular membranes the photons that work at the the functioning level of our pathways are not traveling in the way they should along our meridian thus altering our functioning. I believe with lipid cellular membrane repair, retraining the immune system, detox, and biophotons we can help heal our kids. And of course adding in all of the the therapies to recovery…………………………..

  5. Andrea Mercier says:

    Dr. Patricia Kane has a lipid protocol to check into that helped her son on the spectrum

  6. Andrea Mercier says:

    I forgot to mention that Patricia Kane has a protocol with lipids too with tests that can be run to check the lipid profiles.

  7. David says:

    I was prescribed fish oil but never informed that it helped ADHD with emotional disregulation! Thank you for the helpful info.

  8. Hans Litten says:


    Makes me PROUD

  9. Hans Litten says:

    Proper Autism Activism : (heroes giving PAn what for !)


  10. Hans Litten says:


    Paul Offit admits vaccines cause Autism . CAN YOU BELIEVE IT !

  11. Ruth says:

    Interesting article. Thanks for the overview. I had read that cholesterol (a lipid) was often out of whack in ASD and ADHD. I’m guessing that since it’s an omega-3 it’s also reducing inflammation, something that’s hugely important in PANDAS/PANS. I’m not so sure you could substitute this supplement with food because of the delivery.

  12. Linda Sartori says:

    “Medical foods” instead of “drugs”, eh?
    It may well be that children who have emotional disregulation do also have decreased levels of lipids, but giving a concoction of molecules that cross the blood-brain barrier may not be the answer.
    Fresh fruits and vegetables, along with the elimination of sugar, will help the child compose herself. The building-blocks come in wholesome food, not in some extract from a lab that has lipid ingredients. That is Frankenfood.

    • ProfessorTMR says:

      Fresh fruits and vegetables are not going to change the lipid balance in the brain. I can personally attest to the tremendous difference that omega 3s in the form of fish oil made to my daughter whose ADHD came with “emotional dysregulation” (which we believe was PANDAS in her case). I added several supplements at the same time, but the change in her was dramatic and overnight. Fresh fruits and vegetables (we were already operating with very little sugar) could not have accomplished that.

    • Imago Mana says:

      I am an adult with ADHD. Emotional dysregulation has increased as I’ve gotten older. Not coincidentally, levels of Omega 3’s decline with age. I was a very strict raw vegan for a year. I ate nothing except tons of raw whole fruits veggies with a few nuts and seeds. It did not help at all. I’ve been taking Vayarin (even though it’s designed for children) for 5 years. It changed my life dramatically. I’ve had to increase my dosage to maintain the results recently. Looking forward to the release of Vayarin Plus (the adolescent & adult dosage) soon. PS I still eat a whole food diet and avoid processed foods, grains and sugar.

  13. kathi says:

    The Phosphatidylserine (which seems to provide most of the omegas in the Vayarin) is derived from GMO SOY; I called the company to verify and they said “Yes, it’s from GMO Soy.” Many of our kids are reactive to soy, so thought I’d share that info.

    • thanks, Kathi, for that info. I will search for a different product to recommend to people.

      • Andrea Mercier says:

        I wonder if you could make your own PS enriched Omegas to avoid GMOs.

        My son seems to get seizures from Omega 3 as if he cannot process it. I am going to see if a sardine would produce this effect or not. I wonder if it is a combination of something he needs and the form it is in or that he needs something with it to work. Since sardines have a great nutrition profile I will give them a try. If anyone wants to know how it works with an autistic child with autism, ADHD, and epilepsy. I will post back the results in two weeks. I am particularly concerned with cellular membrane repair as we live in a city with EMF everywhere, he was vaccinated before I knew of the dangers.

    • Vera says:

      Kathi, I’m not sure why they said that! Vayarin’s PS is marine-derived, not soy-derived. On their FAQs (http://www.vayarin.com/faqs/), they specifically say, “No, Vayarin® is not genetically modified. It is a certified non-GMO product”; how much soy – “The product Vayarin® is marine sourced, specifically Krill. The product label indicates that Vayarin “may contain soy” due to the fact that soy based products are manufactured in the same facility.”

      Disclaimer – we have not tried this product yet, but highly interested.

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