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How to Help ADHD Symptoms Through Nutrition

by Mark Davis on Jul 14, 2022

How to Help ADHD Symptoms Through Nutrition

Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, John Lennon, Agatha Christie, Walt Disney, even Mozart, all have, at one point in their lives, been said to have had dealt with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. It's one of the most studied and yet least understood conditions in the adolescent. It's something that can be frustrating for parents, it can be frustrating for the teachers, and it definitely is going to be frustrating for the child as well.


We all know there are medications out there that millions of people are taking for this disorder. But like all medications, there's a benefit risk analysis that needs to be weighed. This is because like all medications, they come with some risks that there might be some negative side effects.


Some authorities even call these medications more harm than good but that debate is not going to be the focus, rather I'm going to cut through all the debate on the safety and effectiveness of the medications and focus on how you might be able to help yourself, or your child, or loved one with their ADHD symptoms through simply looking at nutrition itself.


As many of you know, ADHD is not only diagnosed in children, but it's also diagnosed in adults. Throughout my years in practice, I found that there are about five nutritional hacks that have helped reduce or eliminate ADHD symptoms in many of my patients, whether they were adults or children. So hang on as I run through each of these nutritional hacks and why one or more might be beneficial for you.


Add Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for a vast array of metabolic activities within your body. Omega-3s are critical for cognition and optimum brain function, most notably. But the great thing about omega-3s is they are one of the most researched supplements concerning ADHD. In fact, there's been two separate meta-analysis studies that have found that Omega-3 fatty acids had positive effects on hyperactivity, attention and impulsivity. 


There's a few important things to note about omega-3 fatty acids before you start taking one. If you're going to supplement with omega-3s, the best way to get one is through a fish oil. Which can sound a little bit gross for some folks, the whole idea of just taking a spoonful of fish oil sounds pretty gross. You can do that, but most people don't want to do that.


What I recommend is getting a liquid capsule form. Keep in mind the quality of what you get really, really, really matters. Anybody can squeeze a fish and get oil, but that doesn't necessarily mean that that oil's going to be good for you. Some fish come from fish that are grown in fish farms. They spend their entire life in these toxic environments, eating fish food made from all kinds of things that you wouldn't find a fish eating in their natural habitat. If you extract the oils from these fish, they're likely going to have a much higher toxicity level. When you couple that with the fact that they're raised in a confined area with hundreds, if not thousands, and tens of thousands of other fish, they're likely going to have an even higher level of toxicity.


The key here is you don't want to steal from Peter to pay Paul. You don't want to get the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acid while also giving yourself concentrated toxins at the same time. The question is, what's the solution? What do you do? You want to look for a supplement made from a fish that was freshwater caught, and it's going to say that right on the label. You're also going to want to find one that is a fish that has a small life cycle, or is a small fish, something like an anchovy or a krill.


Now, the reason you want a freshwater caught fish is because the fish is caught in freshwater and it's been in its natural environment, eating the plankton and micronutrients that are necessary to create the high quality omega-3 fatty acids within its body and that they would extract through the process making it into a fish foil.


The reason you want a small fish is because when it's small, it's at the bottom of the food chain and therefore it's not consuming tons of other fish in its lifetime, and therefore it's not going to have the concentrated toxins that happen as you go up the food chain. The thing to understand is each step up the food chain you go, the more likely it is that the fish has concentrated environmental toxins such as PCBs or heavy metals.


So you're going to want to buy a supplement that's made from a fish, that's freshwater caught and is a small fish. It's not only about getting a fish oil, that's a small fish caught in open waters, you're also going to want to look at the company that you're buying it from. You want to make sure that that company has gone through the process of distilling it to remove any of the harmful contaminants that may have passed through. Cheap omega-3 oils that you're often going to find in things like grocery stores or big box stores, maybe from a manufacturer that didn't go through this process simply to save money, means you may be getting those contaminants in your fish oil. You need to read the label and make sure that it was distilled to remove these.


When buying an omega-3 fatty acid, you want to make sure it has on the label, that it has been third party tested for quality, consistency and purity. That means that a third party has independently tested it to make sure there are no contaminants and it's of a high quality. That way, you're going to be able to ensure that what you put in your body is of the highest quality.


Finally, when you purchase omega-3's it is all about balance. There are two components of omega-3 fatty acids called DHA and EPA. I'm not going to go into all the biochemistry behind these, but the thing you need to know is I generally recommend that you get a ratio of 1.5 to two times EPA to DHA. That means there should be 1.5 to 2 times as much EPA listed on the bottle than DHA. When you keep that in mind, you're going to get the proper balance and you're going to be getting the highest level of quality that you can from your omega-3.


Zinc

Zinc is an important metabolic mineral that we all ingest in our normal diets. In fact, as it relates to ADHD, one study showed that there's a 40% decrease in the psycho stimulant usage when zinc was added to the diet. People often ask me as to how much to take in general, I say 20 to 25 milligrams daily is safe for most children and adults without having to run extra blood work beforehand. But if you have any concerns or questions about how much to take, seek help from your natural healthcare provider.


Vitamin D

Vitamin D is necessary for our bodies to function properly no matter what. It's critical for brain function and hormone function. In fact, vitamin D is considered to be a hormone itself and it has effects on other hormones within our bodies. What's great about vitamin D is our bodies naturally create it from the sunlight. Unfortunately, many Americans are deficient in vitamin D, as of now. Recently, research has shown that many ADHD kids are lower in vitamin D than children without ADHD. So it's one of those things you might want to consider adding into your diet. 


Playing outside, and the sunlight is absolutely great for anyone dealing with ADHD and as little as 30 minutes a day can provide adequate amounts of vitamin D production within your body. However, some people still might benefit from supplementing vitamin D, in addition to that. Bear in mind it's also important to find a vitamin D that also has vitaminK or K2 in it. This will allow for the proper absorption of the vitamin D, which is really important.


Multivitamin

Why a multivitamin? Well, think about it. The standard American diet is pretty poor. It's referred to as the SAD diet or Standard American Diet, SAD. It's often deficient in many of the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that are necessary for just basic biologic function. This means that hormones might be negatively affected, blood sugar is negatively affected, immune system negatively infected, brain function negatively affected. This is why it's so important to supplement the Standard American Diet with a nutritional supplement to provide those vitamins, those nutrients, and those minerals that perhaps we're not getting into our diet. Nutrients are the base upon which every function in our body is running. They're critical, especially when you're dealing with ADHD.


Magnesium

Magnesium is one of my favorites because it's shown to calm hyperactivity in a lot of people with ADHD, but that's not all. It helps balance proper norepinephrine levels by blocking its release. It does this in a way that's very similar to the stimulant medications however, unlike stimulant medications magnesium is naturally occurring in our food and intended to be in our diet. Adding magnesium has been one of the most profound changes I've seen in all of my patients with ADHD. I recommend it for all of my patients because of how safe and effective it is.


Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Phosphatidylserine

I said I was only going to do five hacks, but I'm going to actually throw in a bonus hack that's primarily for adults. Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Phosphatidylserine. These are two things that have shown promise with removing brain fog and increasing focus and concentration. Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Phosphatidylserine are derived from fatty acids that play an important role in what we call cell signaling. 


Again, I'm not going to get into all the biochemistry behind it, but a few small studies have shown that there are positive outcomes for focus and in practice, I've seen it just have a great response in adults, but not so much in children. So at this point, I just recommended it for adults.


If there's a topic that you'd like to see me cover in future articles, put it in the comment section below. I read every comment. We'll try to include yours in their requests. 


Finally, if you'd like a high quality source of nutritional supplements for all your health needs, go to Davis Nutrition and you'll find a complete line of high quality supplements right there. 


Until next time, remember, help is by choice, not chance.