ADHD Refers to a family of related chronic neurobiological disorders that interfere with an individual’s capacity to regulate activity level (hyperactivity), inhibit behaviour (impulsivity), and attend to tasks (inattention) in developmentally appropriate ways.  ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed disorder of childhood, occurring three times more often in boys than in girls.

Symptoms of ADHD

Hyperactivity:  Hyperactive children always seem to be in motion, unable to sit still.  They may move around quickly or talk continually.  School lessons can be particularly challenging for them.

Impulsivity:  Frequently these children do not seem to think before acting.  They may blurt out answers to questions, run into the road without looking.  It seems hard for them to defer anything.

Inattentiveness:  These children often seem to need frequent changes of activity.  They may have a short attention span and seem easy to distract.

Causes of ADHD

Studies have shown a genetic link as well as environmental causes including brain damage, food intolerance, hearing impairment, toxic loads and infection during pregnancy.  Hearing problems, dyslexia, anxiety, depression and family problems can cause similar behavioural problems.

Other Contributory Factors
  • Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency                       

  • Intestinal Dysbiosis (Leaky Gut)

  • Liver Overload

  • Blood Sugar Imbalance

  • Chemical (food additives)

  • Metal Toxicity (i.e. Lead, Copper, Aluminium, Mercury) – A hair mineral test can indicate if this is a possible factor.

  • Salicylates and other food intolerances

  • Iron and Zinc levels (need checking or assessing by a professional)

A nutritional therapist is trained to assess and advise on the above factors.

Health Products that may help

Essential Fatty Acids studies have shown that children, including ADHD children given Essential Fatty Acid supplements reduced ADHD type symptoms and made improvements in behaviour, reading and spelling. (The Oxford-Durham Study, Richardson & Montgomery, 2005)

Multivitamin and Mineral – A multivitamin and mineral supplement will help support the body’s many metabolic pathways, helping to fill in the gaps where there may be a dietary deficiency and/or a greater need for some nutrients.

Probiotics – A good quality probiotic with gut healing ingredients such as glutamine can help to support a damaged gut. 

Dietary Recommendations
  • Eat a small amount of protein with each meal/snack.

  • Increase oily fish consumption (i.e. mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna) to increase essential fatty acid intake.

  • Wheat and dairy can often be a problem.  Reduce wherever possible.  Use alternatives to bread such as oatcakes or rice cakes.  Alternatives to milk include nut milks and rice milk.

  • Drink plenty of water (i.e. 6-8 glasses per day).  A brain needs to be properly hydrated to function well.

  • Do not use plastic for packaging food (especially fatty foods) as chemicals can leach from the plastic into the food.   Do not use a plastic drinking bottle for the same reason, Ecotankas made from stainless steel keep your water pure and don’t damage the environment.

Factors to Avoid if Possible
  • Non-organic food.  Eating organic foods where possible will help to reduce toxin levels from pesticides.

  • Food Additives such as 102 (tetrazine) - a proven cause of hyperactivity.

  • Added sugars and refined foods that spike blood sugar levels and contribute to energy dips and lack of concentration.

  • Remember Ritalin should be your last resort.  It is an amphetamine-type drug and has potentially damaging side effects.  It is designed to address the symptoms of ADHD not the causes.

Optimum Nutrition for your Child by Patrick Holford and Deborah Colson