Is Your Smart Child Struggling in School?
Raising a child with ADHD can be a dizzying process: trying to balance school, tutoring, family activities, and find ways to help your child stay calm and focused at the same time! ADD/ADHD attention difficulties are most often treated using medication, school programs or tutoring. But despite all these efforts, many parents see little improvement in the learning disabilities at the heart of the problem. You may be surprised to learn how much good nutritional support can help. Studies show that targeted nutrition for ADHD can result in significant symptom improvement.
ADHD involves neurotransmitter imbalances. Often, children with ADHD also have deficiencies or imbalances in critical nutrients that are used to make these neurotransmitters in the body. If we test children with ADHD, we often see that they are not very efficient at digesting and utilizing their food, and may even have parasites, candida or other signs of more serious gut imbalances.
Supporting the nutritional needs of a child with ADHD can really help educational and behavior interventions “stick”. Solid nutritional support for ADHD includes support for the brain, gut and metabolism. We want to help you find great nutritional tools to help balance your child’s body. On this page, you will learn all about nutritional support for ADHD.
This is why we have developed the
ADHD Multi Kit!
This kit includes the basic supplements needed, in child-friendly, easy-to-use forms
4. Fish oil
More Information about Vitamins and ADHD
All of the B vitamins work together synergistically to support critical functions in the brain. All of the B-complex vitamins are co-factors to each other – that is, they help each other to be absorbed and utilized properly by the body. In studies, B-complex vitamins have been shown to reduce hyperactivity symptoms and increase serotonin in children with ADHD, resulting in calmer, happier children! (2)
B6 is necessary for the production and utilization of neurotransmitters which help regulate mood and brain function. Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include irritability, short attention spans and short term memory loss. Vitamin B6 also helps with carbohydrate metabolism, which can help reduce carb cravings and crashes. Shown in studies to improve hyperactivity symptoms. (1), (2)
Vitamin B3 may help reduce the severity of behavioral problems, loss of cognitive function and hyperactivity that commonly accompany ADHD. This vitamin also calms your nervous system, so it may curb restlessness and irritability. Vitamin B3 helps with delivery of magnesium, vitamin C, zinc and calcium to the brain.
Vitamin B12 is needed in the body for making and regulating neurotransmitters. Involved in the production and maintenance of the myelin sheath (the protective coating on nerve cells, the "wiring" of the brain), essential fatty acid metabolism and energy production. Vitamin B12 deficiency produces some ADHD-like symptoms such as confusion and memory loss.
Vitamins B1 and B2
Vitamin B1 and B2 help deliver glucose to the nervous system and brain. Glucose is the brain's "fuel", and these vitamins help make sure it has a steady supply.
Studies have shown vitamin C to improve cognition and alertness. Vitamin C is heavily concentrated in the brain and crucial to brain function. The earliest sign of vitamin C deficiency is confusion and depression.
Antioxidants, such as Vitamin A, C and E and Bioflavonoids, protect the cells from damage caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can damage fats, and it's main target is the brain. People under a lot of stress, like our kids with ADHD, have particularly high needs for antioxidants, to help support their body in dealing with the effects of stress.
More Information about Minerals and ADHD
85% of all Americans are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is very calming, and has been called the “anti-stress” mineral. Low magnesium and stress reinforce each other: Stress of any kind lowers magnesium levels, and low magnesium levels increase stress on the body. In studies, children with ADHD who were deficient in magnesium showed significant improvement in hyperactivity after taking magnesium supplements (3), (10).
Magnesium is essential for energy production, cell replication and integrity, detoxification, glutathione synthesis, muscular/neurological function, and maintaining body pH balance.
Magnesium deficiency has long been thought to play a significant role in the auditory sensitivity or insensitivity common with children with ADHD. This may occur with a predominance of calcium that can create a magnesium deficiency, facilitating an increased release of glutamate, and resulting in an over-stimulation of the auditory nerve.
One great way to add extra magnesium to your child’s life is to add a cup of calming Epsom Salts to their bath, as a gentle way to start slowing down for bedtime at night. Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate) are safe and non-toxic, but please do not allow your children to drink the bath water!
Zinc is an important factor in the metabolism of neurotransmitters, prostaglandins, and for maintaining brain structure and function. The expression, "No zinc, no think" is not without merit. Many studies have shown that zinc supplementation is helpful with memory, thinking and I.Q. Dopamine is one of the most important factors in the pathophysiology of hyperactivity disorder, and the hormone melatonin has an important role in the regulation of dopamine. Because zinc is necessary in the metabolism of melatonin, it makes sense that zinc is a very important factor in the treatment of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Oysters are a particularly rich food source of zinc.
Studies have shown behavioral improvements in response to zinc supplementation. In one six-week double blind and placebo controlled study, children taking 15mg of zinc sulfate + methylphenidate scored significantly higher on a Parent and Teacher Rating Scale than those taking methylphenidate alone. (4) Another study showed significant behavioral improvement when children were given supplemental zinc, magnesium and calcium (10).
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) help with brain and nerve development, cellular communication, oxygenation, metabolism and immune response. In children with ADHD, Omega-3 EFAs such as DHA and EPA are particularly important for the brain, the immune system, and to help fight inflammation. Many studies show that EFA supplementation can also help with positive mood and attention. (5) EFAs are considered "essential" because they are needed throughout the human life cycle, cannot be produced in the human body, and therefore must be provided through the diet.
Unlike in Autism, most children with ADHD do not exhibit gut symptoms. However, according to Dr. Michael Lyon in his book Is Your Child's Brain Starving? (9), most people with ADHD have little good bacteria and high amounts of harmful bacteria in their stomach. Dr. Lyon conducted research on 75 patients with ADHD and discovered that a third of the children in his study had pathogenic yeast, or harmful bacteria. Dr. Lyon believes that by adding probiotics to the diets of individuals with ADHD, the potentially harmful bacteria will decrease and the symptoms of ADHD will also be reduced.
For this reason, it makes sense to include a good broad-spectrum probiotic in the supplement regimen of any child with ADHD. Any child with ADHD who improves when starting probiotics, or shows gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating or gas should be tested for parasites and other intestinal problems, and may benefit from the use of a more intense probiotic. A great test to learn more about gut issues is called a CDSA (Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis with Parasitology), available from Direct Labs and many naturopathic doctors (ND's).
Iron and calcium may be beneficial to some individuals with ADHD.
IRON - Please have your practitioner measure your child's iron levels. Iron deficiency has been associated with ADHD, but iron supplementation is inappropriate unless iron levels are found. Iron supplementation should be monitored with regular testing.
CALCIUM - Most children would benefit from 1000 mg a day of calcium, in a citrate or other well-absorbed form. Calcium is calming, and supplementing it at bedtime be a great addition to the night time routine of getting ready for sleep. Our vitamins and minerals are not intended as a calcium supplement. Please avoid Calcium Carbonate, as it does not absorb well, and has been known to have high levels of lead.
Please consult your doctor before changing your current medications or nutritional program.
(1) A Preliminary Study of the Effect of Pyridoxine (B6) Administration in a Subgroup of Hyperkinetic Children: a Double-blind Crossover Comparison with Methylphenidate Coleman M, et al Biol Psychiatry 1979 Oct; 14(5):741-51 PMID 497303.
(2) The Effects of Megadoses of Selected B-complex Vitamins on Children with Hyperkinesis: Controlled Studies with Long-term Follow-up, Brenner A J Learn Disabil 15(5):258-64, 1982 PMID 7086283
(3)The Effects of Magnesium Physiological Supplementation on Hyperactivity in Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Positive Response to Magnesium Oral Loading Test , Starobrat-Hermelin B, Kozielec T Magnes Res 1997 Jun;10(2):149-56, PMID 9368236
(4) Zinc sulfate as an adjunct to methylphenidate for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children: a double blind and randomized trial [ISRCTN64132371. Akhondzadeh S, Mohammadi MR, Khademi M., BMC Psychiatry. 2004 Apr 8;4:9. PMID: 15070418
(5) The role of zinc in the treatment of hyperactivity disorder in children, Dodig-Curković K, Dovhanj J, Curković M, Dodig-Radić J, Degmecić D. Acta Med Croatica. 2009 Oct;63(4):307-13. Review. Croatian. PMID: 20034331
(6) The effect of deficiency of selected bioelements on hyperactivity in children with certain specified mental disorders. Starobrat-Hermelin B. Ann Acad Med Stetin. 1998;44:297-314. Polish. PMID:9857546
(7) Omega-3 fatty acid status in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Antalis CJ, Stevens LJ, Campbell M, Pazdro R, Ericson K, Burgess JR. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2006 Oct-Nov;75(4-5):299-308. Epub 2006 Sep 8. PMID:16962757
(8) Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain. Part 1: micronutrients. Bourre JM. J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85. Review. PMID:17066209
(9) "Is Your Child's Brain Starving?"; Michael R. Lyon, M.D.; 2002
(10) The effect of deficiency of selected bioelements on hyperactivity in children with certain specified mental disorders, Ann Acad Med Stetin. 1998;44:297-314. Polish. PMID: 9857546