Under the Hood

Nutrition And ADHD: What You Need To Know

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that’s common among a lot of children and adults, which is characterized by impulsiveness, inattention and hyperactivity.

Its exact cause is still relatively unclear, although research suggests that genetics may play a major role, as well as poor nutrition during infancy and environmental toxicity.

And while there is no evidence that shows diet can affect ADHD, some research suggests that for some people, its symptoms can be improved by certain dietary changes.

ADHD and Nutrition

Believed to originate from low levels of dopamine (among other factors), ADHD is considered as a non-curable disorder, with treatment centered on reducing its symptoms, such as behavioral therapy and medication.

However, there is growing evidence that dietary changes can affect it too.

While the science behind it is still controversial, certain food do affect behavior. Caffeine increases alertness for example, whereas chocolate can help release dopamine and alcohol can affect our behavior.

And now, studies suggest that mineral and vitamin supplements can reduce antisocial behavior in children, while violent and impulsive behavior can be curbed with the help of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Because AHDD symptoms are mostly behavioral, the research suggests that these foods and supplements can also help affect them. There’s also the fact that most children who have ADHD have nutrient deficiencies and aren’t eating a well-balanced diet.

As such, researchers then conducted studies that looked into the effects of certain supplements on ADHD symptoms, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. They also conducted studies that eliminated problematic foods, which includes preservatives, food additives, allergenic foods and sweeteners.

The results are far from conclusive. However, the studies do suggest that diet can have powerful effects on behavior. For example, omega-3 supplements and vitamin/mineral supplements have shown slight improvements in ADHD symptoms, and clearly shows promise. Amino acid supplements, on the other hand, have mixed results.

Then there are sugars and artificial sweeteners, which showed no effect at all, while the evidence isn’t strong enough in removing preservatives.

As such, more research needs to be done in the future.

ADHD Data from 2016 revealed that 14 percent of boys were diagnosed with ADHD compared to only 6.3 percent of girls. Michał Parzuchowski/Unsplash