Nutrition and ADHD
Nutritional Considerations for ADHD
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 6 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Although scientists aren't entirely sure of what causes this condition, they have pinpointed several key factors that play into the worsening or bettering of symptoms. For years doctors prescribed ADHD medications to treat the condition, but now expert nutritionists and neurologists have found that certain nutrients can help as well. A child with ADHD experiences a miscommunication between brain cells. This miscommunication causes symptoms such as hyperactivity and difficulty concentrating. Certain foods can help improve that communication, thus lessening the symptoms in ADHD in children. These nutrients include essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
Essential fatty acids are found in foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. One of the most helpful EFAs for children with ADHD is Omega-3 fatty acids. This EFA is found in foods such as algae and fatty fish. Since most children detest algae and many refuse to eat fish, the best way to give them Omega-3s is in supplement form.
Vitamin B Supplement
B complex includes B vitamins such as folic acid, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and B12. These vitamins work to build tissue, reduce stress and improve neural activity. Some doctors recommend B complex vitamins to help ADHD children reduce their symptoms. If your child won't take supplements, give them plenty of foods that contain B vitamins such as fortified cereal or grain.
Calcium and Magnesium Supplements
We all know the calcium and magnesium are needed to support healthy bones; however, these two minerals can help improve behavior in children with ADHD. The reason -- calcium and magnesium both aid the nervous system and improve impulse transmissions. The best sources of calcium and magnesium are low fat milk and yogurt.
Choosing Complex Carbohydrates over Simple Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are high in fiber and low in sugar, whereas simple carbohydrates are the complete opposite. Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, brown rice and fruits help to balance energy throughout the day. Simple carbohydrates such as candy, processed meats and pastries cause spikes in blood sugar, which triggers hyperactivity. Children with ADHD should eat more complex carbohydrates, since they may help children sleep better at night.
As with any condition that requires medication, ask your child's pediatrician before giving them anything else. Over-the-counter vitamins, nutrients and herbs may interfere with certain ADHD medications, so be sure you have the doctor's approval before giving your child any of the above.