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Five Vitamins For ADHD & Attention
Taking vitamin supplements can help reduce ADHD symptoms.
by Brad Chase
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a behavioral disorder characterized by lack of attention, irritability, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It is the most commonly diagnosed developmental disorder, affecting 8 - 12% of school-aged children.
Though there are several types of potent ADHD prescription medications available, many parents prefer using the natural treatment options which includes vitamins and minerals.
It has been shown that giving essential vitamins and minerals to ADHD inflicted children and adults considerably help in reducing ADHD symptoms.
Nutritional deficiencies contribute strongly to the symptoms of ADHD. While the members of the Vitamin B complex are the most common vitamins prescribed for supplementation in people diagnosed with ADHD, other vitamins have secondary roles in the development and treatment of this hyperactivity disorder.
The B vitamins are important in ADHD therapy for two major reasons. First, some of them, especially Vitamin B6 and B12, are essential for the development of the nervous system and the synthesis of neurotransmitters.
Secondly, these B vitamins are needed for the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. Such regulation is important to balance the glucose level in the blood.
Because sugary foods flood the body with glucose and cause hyperactivity in the process, these vitamins moderate the release of glucose and provide a more balanced energy supply.
Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine is important for the two reasons given above: it is essential for the regulation of carbohydrate (and even protein) metabolism; and it contributes to aspects of brain chemistry and central nervous system.
Vitamin B6 is also needed in the body for the production of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
Symptoms of Vitamin B6 deficiency include irritability, short attention spans and short term memory loss. Supplementation for children diagnosed with ADHD is advised. Daily doses of Vitamin B6 recommended for ADHD is 25-50 mg although high doses have been reported as effective.
Vitamin B6 is naturally found in brown rice, legumes, whole grains and meats.
Vitamin B12 or Cyanocobalamin is needed to support optimal neurological functions. Vitamin B12 deficiency produces some ADHD-like symptoms such as confusion and memory loss.
Supplementation with the vitamin helps improve focus and attention in children diagnosed with ADHD. Along with Vitamin B6 and B9, cyanocobalamin is needed in the body for synthesizing and regulating neurotransmitters.
Other B vitamins useful for treating ADHD include those needed for maintaining general health. These include Vitamin B1 which is useful in the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose. Vitamin B2 is also needed for this purpose.
Vitamin B3 or niacin is important for general metabolism and to improve the absorption of essential minerals and vitamins from the gastrointestinal tract.
Although Vitamin A and E are generally not recommended for any ability to improve brain function, they help people living with ADHD in other ways.
For example, these vitamins are needed for improving vision. Wandering focus and inattentiveness in ADHD children, especially in the classroom, are sometimes due to the fact that their eyesights are not good enough to engage reading materials or see chalkboards.
Vitamin A is the most important natural nutrient for healthy vision. It bounds to the rods and cones of the eyes where it is responsible for capturing light and triggering signals in the optic nerve.
Vitamin E is also important for eye health. Its deficiency can lead to retinopathy, an eye disease.
Both Vitamins A and E are also antioxidants. Therefore, they are essential for mopping up harmful free radicals in the body. In this way, they are also protective and can prevent structural damages in the neurons of the central nervous system.
Fish oil and cod liver oil, which are common supplements recommended for treating ADHD, contain these two vitamins.
Unlike the other vitamins treated in this article, the link between Vitamin D and ADHD is not well understood. However, the vitamin is important in certain key body processes which may contribute to the outcome of ADHD.
First, Vitamin D is known to improve the concentration of glutathione in the brain. Glutathione is an antioxidant useful for counteracting harmful free radicals in the central nervous system. Its protective action prevents damage to the neurons and helps in maintaining brain health.
Secondly, Vitamin D is needed for certain steps in the productions of brain chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine. The roles of these two neurotransmitters are already established in the development and treatment of ADHD.
In addition, Vitamin D enhances the activity of the enzyme, choline acetyltransferase. This is the enzyme responsible for the final step in the product of acetylcholine, the chief brain chemical of the cholinergic branch of the nervous system.
Acetylcholine is known to improve and increase attention span, and its concentration in the brain is directly correlated with the ability to focus for sustained periods of time.
As per a study published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, taking zinc supplements can alleviate the symptoms of ADHD or attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder in children.
Zinc is known to regulate the activity of brain chemicals, melatonin, and fatty acids, all of which are connected to behavior.
Higher doses of zinc can be unsafe, so talk to your health care practitioner before giving zinc supplements to a child or taking it yourself.
Children with ADHD usually have lower magnesium levels, hence it makes sense that taking magnesium supplements can help in alleviating the hyperactive behavior and improve focus and attention.
Magnesium calms the central nervous system, which is essential in children with hyperactivity symptoms. It is a key factor in the production of serotonin, which an important neurotransmitter that promotes the feeling of calm and well-being.
Fatty acids, primarily omega-3 fatty acids and evening primrose oil, are known as good fats. They play a key role in promoting normal brain function.
Experts have recommended using omega-3 fatty acids as a herbal remedy for ADHD. However, you must consult your doctor to find out if it is suitable for you.
L-carnitine is produced from an amino acid and it helps body cells generate energy. A study involving a group of boys with ADHD found that 54% of them showed development in behavior when taking L-carnitine.
L-carnitine has not been studied for safety in children, so talk to your health care practitioner before giving L-carnitine to a child.
If you are looking for safe and alternative treatment for ADHD, then consider using Listol which contains these ingredients: Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, and Zinc.
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Listol, a natural ADHD remedy, helps increase concentration and focus in kids and adults.