Over the past decades, the number of children and teenagers with ADHD has skyrocketed, and the diet has a lot to say. According to a new American-Canadian study, supplementing with all the essential vitamins and minerals can improve young ADHD sufferers’ mood, emotional disturbances, and ability to concentrate. The supplements can even stimulate their growth.
ADHD is a disease characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. Many sufferers also have difficulty with sleeping or they develop other neurological disorders such as anxiety and depression. ADHD is often ascribed to genetic factors, yet they cannot account for the rapidly increasing disease rate because our genes can’t possibly have changed that much in just a few decades. Therefore, it has to be factors in our environment that cause the disease, and science is very focused on diets and people’s intake of essential nutrients. The scientists behind the new study refer to earlier research where supplementation with zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids (in particular) has been shown to have a good effect. Moreover, previous studies of children and adults have shown that broad-spectrum supplementation with vitamins and minerals has a positive influence on emotional disturbances such as irritability, aggressive behavior, and anger.
The new study offers hope to children with ADHD
In their new study, the scientists took things one step further. A total of 126 children with ADHD were divided in two groups. The children were from the United States (Oregon and Ohio) and Canada. None of them were on medication, and their parents followed the study carefully. For eight weeks, one group got capsules with a wide spectrum of organic, highly assimilable vitamins and minerals, choline, and a few amino acids such as L-carnitine, L-methionine, and N-acetyl-cysteine. The vitamin and mineral supplements contained nutrient levels that complied with official recommendations and did not exceed the safe upper intake level. The other group of ADHD sufferers got matching placebo.
Neither the scientist nor the parents or their children knew who got what. During the course of the study, the researchers and the parents filled in special forms (CGI and CASI-5) with information about the participants’ symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, anger, and other emotional disturbances. Also, they monitored the height of the children.
It turned out that 58 percent of those in the supplemented group had notable improvements with regard to symptoms such as irritability and other emotional disturbances. Only 18 percent of those in the placebo group showed signs of improvement. In addition, the supplemented children grew 6 mm more than the children in the other group. According to the scientists, this is good news because ADHD medication often causes children to grow less than they would under normal circumstances.
ADHD medication is also linked to other serious side effects and it doesn’t help all children. The scientists therefore find it encouraging that more than half the children felt better with vitamin and mineral supplementation, which is perfectly safe.
The new study is published in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
How do vitamins and minerals affect ADHD?
The scientists say that we need more studies to determine how the different vitamins and minerals affect symptoms of ADHD. They address different theories that deal with:
- The gut flora and all the different metabolites that are excreted
- Reduction of inflammation markers that can even occur in the brain
- Optimization of neurotransmitters that are important for the brain and nervous system
More information about nutrients and ADHD
Several studies show that the widespread lack of vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and B vitamins are especially relevant for the development of ADHD, and high-quality supplements can help improve the symptoms. Having stable blood sugar levels is also important. Click here and read more:
Jeanette M. Jonhstone et al. Micronutrients for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Youths: A Placebo-Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2022
Elsevir. Micronutrients (vitamins + minerals) show benefit for children with ADHD and emotional dysregulation. ScienceDaily. April 26, 2022
James J. Dicolantonio and James H. O´Keefe. The Importance of Marine Omega-3s for Brain Development and the Prevention and treatment of Behavior, Mood, and Other Brain Disorders. Nutrients. 2020
Helen Saul Case. Magnesium demper hyperaktivitet blant AD/HD-barn. Helsemagasinet Vitenskap og Fornuft. 2017
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