Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a childhood disorder that can continue into adulthood. As of 2011, about
Symptoms of ADHD can be disruptive in certain environments or even during a child’s day-to-day life. They may have difficulty controlling their behavior and emotions at school or in social settings. This can affect their development or how they perform academically. ADHD behaviors include:
- becoming easily distracted
- not following directions
- feeling impatient often
Your child’s doctor will prescribe medications such as stimulants or antidepressants to treat ADHD symptoms. They might also refer your child to a specialist for counseling. You may be interested in alternative treatments to help relieve ADHD symptoms as well.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying a new alternative treatment. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of adding it to your child’s treatment plan.
Some studies suggest that certain nutritional supplements can ease symptoms of ADHD.
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in brain health. A zinc deficiency may have an effect on other nutrients that help the brain function. The Mayo Clinic reports that zinc supplements may benefit symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and social problems. But more studies are needed. A
Zinc-rich foods include:
- red meat
- dairy products
- whole grains
- fortified cereals
You can also find zinc supplements at your local health food store or online.
Omega-3 fatty acids
If your child isn’t getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from diet alone, they might benefit from a supplement. Researching findings about benefits are mixed. Omega-3 fatty acids can affect how serotonin and dopamine move around in the frontal cortex of your brain. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential to good brain health. People with ADHD typically have lower levels of DHA than those without the condition.
Dietary sources of DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, such as:
If your child has low iron levels, supplements might help. The
Magnesium is another important mineral for brain health. A magnesium deficiency can cause irritability, mental confusion, and shortened attention span. But magnesium supplements may not help if your child doesn’t have a magnesium deficiency. There’s also a lack of studies about how magnesium supplements affect symptoms of ADHD.
Talk to your child’s doctor before adding magnesium supplements to any treatment plan. At high doses, magnesium can be toxic and cause nausea, diarrhea, and cramps. It’s possible to get enough magnesium through your diet. Magnesium-rich foods include:
- dairy products
- whole grains
- leafy greens
Sleep problems can be a side effect of ADHD. While melatonin doesn’t improve symptoms of ADHD, it can help regulate sleep, especially in those with chronic insomnia. A
Herbal remedies are a popular treatment for ADHD, but just because they are natural doesn’t mean they are more effective than traditional treatments. Here are some of the herbs often used in ADHD treatment.
Valerian root and lemon balm
Ginkgo biloba has mixed results on effectiveness for ADHD. It’s less effective than traditional treatments, but it’s unclear if it’s more effective than placebo. According to the
St. John’s wort
Many people use this herb for ADHD, but there is
Talk to your doctor before trying any new supplement or herbal remedy. What works for some people may not benefit you the same way. Some nutritional supplements and herbal remedies interact with other medications you or your child may already be taking.
In addition to supplements and herbs, dietary changes may improve symptoms of ADHD. Try removing hyperactivity trigger foods from your child's diet. These include foods with artificial colors and additives, such as sodas, fruit drinks, and brightly colored cereals.