As per the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD, also known as Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is listed as a brain dysfunction in which inattention, impulsive, and hyperactive behaviors impede with normal brain function and/or development.
Symptoms of ADHD include:
- Disorganization and inability to focus
- Inability to perform tasks
- Loss of attention to detail
- Forgetful and easily distracted
- Restlessness and/or excessive physical activity, including tapping, talking or fidgeting; an inability to sit still and be calm
- Need for immediate gratification
- Making decisions, usually poor ones, without first thinking through the consequences
- Socially intrusive behavior; unable to exercise self-restraint
The root causes of ADHD are still unknown
According to some theories, the symptoms manifesting as what is labeled ADHD are the result of different genetic brainwave patterns from “normal” people.
There appears to be a general agreement among the scientific community that neurotransmitters in people with ADHD are different than in people without it, most likely as a result of genetic influence.
Of course, there are pharmaceutical drugs that have been designed to block and change neurotransmitters in order for people with ADHD to function within the confines of societal standards.
Aside from the staunching of physical and creative flow, these pharmaceutical drugs come with a wide range of side effects. Some of the most common side effects of medications used to treat ADHD is the mechanism of the body to build tolerance of the medication.
In other words, this means that ADHD individuals will constantly be dependent on medications, and as tolerance increases, the dosages would have to be increased.
Other side effects of medications used to treat ADHD include increased irritability and anxiety, change in personality and insomnia, and stomach issues.
a change in personality and insomnia, increase anxiety and irritability, tics, personality changes, headaches, and stomach aches. Sometimes, individuals with ADHD will develop a decreased appetite.
Impact of nutrition and ADHD
According to a 2014 study, people with ADHD are often deficient in magnesium, vitamin D, zinc, and ferritin (a blood protein that contains iron). Researchers explain that these nutrients play important roles in neurological function, including the synthesis of neurotransmitters.
Many ADHD symptoms are addressed with medications and behavioral therapy. Unfortunately, even with combined treatments, about one-third of individuals with ADHD are still symptomatic. At this moment, there is no evidence to support supplementation as a therapy for the treatment of ADHD, however, supplementation may improve the overall well-being and medication response, mainly in those with deficiencies.
Although the percentage of children presenting with ADHD symptoms who have nutrient deficiencies is not definitively clear, the existing literature implies that a subgroup of individuals with ADHD are at risk for nutrient deficiencies that may have a role in symptomology.
Here’s how magnesium, vitamin D, zinc, and iron (ferritin) affect people with ADHD.
Magnesium plays an important role in the synthesis of brain hormones, most notably serotonin and dopamine, whose levels are frequently found to be below the normal range in individuals with ADHD.
According to a recent study performed on twenty-five children with ADHD, seventy-two percent of the children were deficient in magnesium. The study also found that supplementation with this essential nutrient increased cognitive function and lowered hyperactivity.
2. Vitamin D
Children with ADHD also have been shown to be deficient in vitamin D and vitamin D receptors.
Deficiency of vitamin D has been correlated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Vitamin D has also been found to have positive effects on brain function and development and operate as a neuro-immunomodulator leading to behavioral and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Several studies have found evidence to suggest that vitamin D increases neuroprotection, supports normal brain growth, and modulates matrix metalloproteinases and anti-inflammatory mechanisms, which are essential components for the brain.
Vitamin D deficiency has become a global problem. This is one more reason to take back the electronic devices and tell the children with ADHD (or those who are at risk of developing) to go outside and play in the sunshine.
Zinc is another vital nutrient that has a role in the metabolism of neurotransmitters. According to studies, supplementation with zinc in combination with the conventional drug amphetamine has shown a greater decrease in ADHD symptoms that medication alone.
The exact connection is unclear, however, it has become clear that zinc deficiency affects cognitive development, probably due to the numerous functions it plays in the biochemical mechanisms of dopamine and melatonin.
Unfortunately, there is no one pill quick fix for ADHD. But, the amount of evidence regarding nutrient deficiencies in those who show symptoms of ADHD suggests that they are usually concurrent. If you or your children has been diagnosed with ADHD, consult with your doctor for nutrient testing to discover if any deficiencies exist.
Iron is required for the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters, which is how this essential nutrient comes into play in the context of ADHD. Several research results have shown a connection between children with ADHD and iron deficiency.
Ferritin, a blood protein, is an indicator of the body’s iron reserves. For some individuals, supplementation with ferrous sulfate was found to decrease the ADHD symptoms, especially in individuals who experience restless leg syndrome (also a by-product of magnesium deficiency).
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