Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is a neuro-behavioral condition associated with impulsivity, inattention, and over-activity and is most often diagnosed in school-age children. Five percent of children worldwide have been diagnosed with hyperactivity and decreased attention levels (Brown, 2017). ADHD is diagnosed twice as frequently in boys than girls and symptoms can be prevalent and developmentally impairing from an early age (Curatolo, 2010). So whether you were diagnosed as a child or have a child with ADHD you are not alone.
Are you born with ADHD or do you get it?
ADHD may be caused by a number of things which may include but is not limited to the list below:
Possible symptoms of ADHD?
Lacks attention to details, makes careless mistakes
Difficulty sustaining attention
Displays disinterest or not listening
Struggles to follow instructions
Difficulty with organization
Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring mental effort
Fidgets with hands/feet, squirms in chair
Difficulty remaining seated
Difficulty engaging in quiet activities
Acts as if driven by a motor
Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
Interrupts or intrudes upon others
Above are just a few of the symptoms someone could possibly exhibit if they have ADHD (CHADD, 2018).
Can nutrition be helpful when living with ADHD?
There is minimal actual research pertaining to dietary “dos” and “don'ts” however there is a lot of information about the importance of micro-nutrients for those with ADHD along with suggestions on possible foods to increase and for foods to decrease or eliminate.
Why the importance pertaining to Micro-nutrients-
Foods to increase could be – fresh organic whole foods, fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fats such as those with Omega- 3 and Omega- 6 plus organic protein sources. These are some of the suggestions and there are numerous reasons for these types of foods to be increased.
For example most of these are high in iron which is important cofactor in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Also if someone is low in iron then there are issues with one's cognitive abilities along with learning disabilities, developmental delays, low IQ and increased restlessness. Another example for increase these foods is because of magnesium and zinc. Magnesium influences catecholamine signaling and other neurotransmitters while zinc regulates dopamine. These aspects can all be beneficial for someone diagnosed with ADHD (Hariri, 2005).
Foods to decrease and/or eliminate would be- processed foods, refine sugar, high amounts of carbohydrates, artificial colors, additives and fast food ( McCann, 2007). These foods could increase hyperactivity, decrease necessary micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients along with increase ADHD symptoms.
Sample Meal Plan
Breakfast: Fortified cereal with soy milk and blueberries
Lunch: Whole grain enriched bread with low sodium turkey breast, and avocado spread.
Carrot sticks with ranch.
Snack: Cashews with grapes
Dinner: Lean beef with baked potato with broccoli and cheese.
Snack: Frozen banana/ berry smoothie
Brown, J.E. (2017). Nutrition through the life cycle;, 6th edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
CHADD. (2018). About ADHD. National Resource Center on ADHD. Retrieved from: http://chadd.org/Understanding-ADHD/About-ADHD.aspx
CHADD. (2018) The science of ADHD. The National Resource Center on ADHD. Retrieved from: http://chadd.org/Understanding-ADHD/About-ADHD/The-Science-of-ADHD.aspx
Curatolo, P. Agati, E. Moavero, R. (2010). The neurobiological basis of ADHD. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 36, 79. Doi:10.1186/1824-7288-36-79
Froehlich, T. Anixt, J. Loe, I. Chirdkiatgumchai, V. Kuan, L. Gilman, R. (2011). Update on environmental risk factors for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Current Psychiatry Reports, 13, 5, 333-344. doi: 10.1007/s11920-011-0221-3
Hariri, M. Azadbakht, L. (2015). Magnesium, iron, and zinc supplementation for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review on the recent literature. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 6, 83. doi: 10.4103/2008-7802.164313
Mahan, L. K., & Raymond, J. (2017). Krause’s Food & The Nutrition Care Process (14th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
McCann D, et al. (2007). "Food Additives and Hyperactive Behaviour in 3-Year-Old and 8/9-Year-Old Children in the Community: A Randomised, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial," Lancet, 370, 9598, 1560–1567. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61306-3
And, of course, here’s the standard disclaimer:
The statements expressed herein pertaining to foods and herbs have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This website and related services are not intended to give medical advice, make diagnoses, or hinder you from seeking care from a licensed medical professional. Any of the resources suggested by the owner of this site are for information purposes only, publicly available to anyone, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You are encouraged to consult your healthcare provider before making any changes in diet or lifestyle. The information given by the owner of this site is not intended to replace the services or instructions of a physician, therapist or qualified healthcare provider. It is the individual’s responsibility to evaluate and choose service providers that they believe will satisfy their requirements and provide care that will meet their needs