Attention deficit disorder, which is also known as ADD, is a developmental condition that affects as many as 5 percent of all children attending school. Symptoms of ADD include inattention, impaired organizational skills, and distraction. Although originally thought to be a disorder of childhood, ADD also exists in adults who develop coping techniques to decrease the implications of the disorder. Prescription medications, usually stimulants, are generally the first approach to treating ADD. Other approaches include dietary changes or restriction of foods believed to make ADD symptoms worse. Certain vitamins are also used to help relieve the symptoms of ADD, and they may effectively relieve symptoms related to deficiencies.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, the mineral magnesium is necessary for more than 300 functions in your body. People with ADD may experience benefit from taking a magnesium supplement especially if they have a mild deficiency. The University of Maryland explains that symptoms of magnesium deficiency include problems with attention and confusion. The inattention associated with ADD may also be related to a deficiency of magnesium and may be relieved by taking a supplement of approximately 200mg daily.
Vitamin B-6 plays an important role in the production of neurotransmitters in the brain. These chemical messengers, which include serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, are the same chemicals found to be affected in people with ADD. The B-complex vitamins work synergistically to keep your body's processes working properly. Foods such as animal products, beans and fortified cereals are natural sources of B vitamins, including vitamin B-6. If you're considering supplements, keep in mind that vitamin B-6 can cause health problems in high doses so check with your doctor before including it in your diet.
Zinc is a mineral that is necessary for cellular metabolism, immune system functioning and cell division. Your body also requires zinc to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain. Additionally, zinc helps regulate other biochemicals that are associated with behavior and thus may help some people living with ADD. In children and adolescents, zinc plays a critical role in growth and development, and a deficiency can cause impairment of these functions. This impairment may be related to manifestation of ADD. The University of Michigan explains that studies have shown zinc supplements slightly improve behavior.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids, which include omega-3 and omega-6 fats, are found in fish, flaxseeds and other types of oil. These fats are important for the functioning of your brain, cardiovascular system and immunity. A 1995 study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that boys with a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder had deficiencies of essential fatty acids. This association cannot be inferred as causation, however. High doses of supplemental essential fatty acids could impair blood clotting. For this reason, check with your doctor before using a supplement. Alternatively, you can consume foods that naturally contain these fats.
- University of Maryland: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Other Treatments
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Magnesium Vitamin C
- National Institutes of Health: Vitamin B6
- "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition": Essential Fatty Acid Metabolism in Boys With Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; LJ Stevens, et al.; ; October 1995
- National Institutes of Health: Zinc