For individuals living with ADHD, whether you’re a parent navigating a child with ADHD or you’ve been diagnosed yourself, you might be disinclined to turn immediately to medications to ease the symptoms. The good news is, while medications can and do help, they’re not the only solutions to combating ADHD. Many natural ingredients commonly found in vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as food ingredients, can be utilized to help with ADHD treatment.
Before relying solely on supplements, however, make sure to check with your child’s pediatrician or your medical provider/psychologist to craft a personalized, holistic treatment plan for you.
1. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
Omega-3s and Omega-6s, commonly found in seafood and fish oil supplements, are made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These acids work to protect brain tissue, aid in communication between brain cells, as well as boost attention, visual learning and short-term memory, while lessening hyperactivity and impulsivity. It has been researched and noted that individuals with ADHD have deficient and/or imbalanced levels of EPA and DHA, likely contributing to symptoms associated with ADHD.
If one’s diet does not naturally receive the proper amount of omega fatty acids, it could be beneficial to consider supplementing the diet with supplements containing Omega-3 and Omega-6. This would help to appropriately restore the body’s levels of EPA and DHA and combat ADHD’s symptoms.
Delayed cognitive development, jitteriness, being easily distracted and having difficulty focusing are not just symptoms of ADHD, they are symptoms of a zinc deficiency. For this reason, many believe that the appearance of these ADHD symptoms are linked to deficient levels of zinc and can be counteracted with a natural zinc supplement. Zinc plays an important part in the proper functioning of the brain, supplementing it where the diet fails to do so can significantly help decrease ADHD symptoms.
Another important mineral, iron is needed for the natural production of dopamine in the brain. One of ADHD’s symptoms is low levels of dopamine, and therefore, low levels of necessary iron. Studies on ADHD and iron have shown that increasing the body’s iron levels increases dopamine production and decreases some of ADHD’s symptoms. While supplementing the diet with iron is possible, iron deficiency can be avoided through a diet including shellfish, peas, beans, chickpeas, spinach, quinoa and red meat, to name a few.
Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals needed by the body, helping with functions like strengthening bones, relaxing muscles and producing energy. Studies have also noted that proper levels of magnesium in the body significantly reduce ADHD symptoms due to low magnesium levels. According to one study on magnesium and ADHD, “Magnesium supplementation along with standard treatment improved inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, opposition and conceptual level in children with ADHD.” While over supplementing magnesium can be dangerous, getting the right amount in one’s diet can be effective in lessening ADHD’s symptoms.
5. Vitamin D
Another prevalent deficiency in children with ADHD is vitamin D. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of magnesium and zinc (both also important in lessening ADHD symptoms), as well as synthesizes serotonin, a natural chemical produced in the brain essential to social behavior, attention and mental skills. When compared with children who did not have ADHD, those with ADHD had significantly lower levels of vitamin D. Luckily, vitamin D is easy to get from spending time in the sunshine each day, using a sun lamp, eating foods rich in vitamin D or taking a natural vitamin D supplement.
Melatonin regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle, one on which ADHD can have a negative impact. Because many ADHD medications cause sleep disturbances, whether it’s falling asleep efficiently, staying asleep or having difficulties waking up, melatonin is a common ingredient many use to counteract this aspect. While it has not been proven that melatonin lessens symptoms of ADHD, it has been shown that using melatonin helps with sleep difficulties caused by it.
For additional ADHD support
Whether you struggle with ADHD or you are researching for the sake of helping out your child, keep in mind the importance of the natural, holistic approach to treating ADHD. By adjusting one’s diet and learning more about the use of natural supplements, you can slowly begin to address ADHD at home without the use of possibly unnecessary medications.
However, before you begin introducing supplements into your or your child’s diet, be sure to check with your physician to make sure the vitamin or mineral supplement(s) is the right one for you. For more information on ADHD, or to speak with a counselor about ADHD, contact Pyramind Family Behavioral Healthcare today at 678-274-4936.