ADHD and Nutrition

ADHD and nutrition are closely linked. Providing the correct types of nutrients is the fist step in treating attention deficit disorder. Let's look at how to improve behavior and concentration through proper foods, vitamins and minerals.

Studies conducted recently have pointed out that hyperactive children who have deficiencies in certain nutrients such as fatty acids have health and behavioral problems. Therefore, in order to address this disorder effectively, you must increase the intake of this and other critical nutrients.

Essential Fatty Acids

EFAs (essential fatty acids) are required for normal brain development. Everyone needs a regular supply of EFAs to remain health, think clearly and be able to control their behavior.

In most parts of the world, diet supplies these nutrients which are found in fish and many plants. However, the American diet is dismally lacking in these essential fatty acids.

Thus, it is recommended that children in the U.S. increase their intake of fish, salmon being one of the best. This however is not always easy, so as an alternative, supplementing with fish oil can provide the needed fatty acids. Many parents have found that supplementing with these nutrients brings about noticeable improvement in 1 to 2 weeks.

Sugar and Hyperactivity

No consideration of the connection between ADHD and nutrition would be complete without a discussion of sugar and hyperactivity. Studies abound that show that sugar produces hyperactivity in children. Some ADHD specialists will tell you this is not true. However, the parents of these children will tell you that sugar can lead to some very extreme behavior.

This is due to the fact that sugar causes a spike in glucose levels followed by a quick drop which affects the levels of brain neurotransmitters. Brain scans have shown that this change in neurotransmitter levels is closely linked to hyperactivity.

One study on children with attention deficit disorder involved the type of breakfast they were provided. The children were given two types of breakfasts:
1. A breakfast rich in carbohydrates, including refined sugar.
2. A breakfast rich in glucose and lactose

After eating this type of breakfast, the children reported feeling more energized and thus hyperactive. They performed better in their activities because the glucose acted as a kind of stimulant.

Children whose breakfast contained higher amounts of carbohydrates were generally faced with more problems regarding attention and hyperactive behavior.

In other studies looking into the effect of nutrition on hyperactive children, testing after five hours of glucose tolerance has shown an ability to perform better, with seventy-four percent of the children showing improvement when refined sugar intake is reduced.  

The registered abnormality of fifty percent is considered to be a low, having the shape of a flat curve like the one seen in hypoglycemia. This type of stimulant refers to then epinephrine production  which can contribute to irrational behavior.

Also, sugar intake is said to aggravate behavioral issues. Reducing this intake will mean that you are less likely to develop side effects and sugar-free meals are generally, and this is a known fact, healthier than the others.

On the other side of the issue, utilizing non-sugar sweeteners instead of sugar ingests chemicals into the body that often contribute to hyperactivity. Therefore, staying away from foods that contain sugar or artificial sweeteners is the best plan to help reduce ADHD behavior. At the same time it will also improve overall health, leading to a greater ability to focus.

Herbal/vitamin/mineral supplements have been shown to help improve behavior and performance in the classroom and at home. In addition to providing a good ADHD diet for your children, herbal formulas work to help relax the hyperactive child while improving brain activity. Get More Information on natural products that have been shown to help with the symptoms of ADHD from Native Remedies.

You may also be interested in:
Vitamins for ADHD
Allergies in ADHD Kids

Recommended websites: A good discussion of sugar in ADHD kids.
Good and Bad Sugars
WebMD on ADHD diets.