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Can Calcium Boost Concentration?

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ADHD is linked with numerous nutrient deficiencies. Read on to learn how calcium deficiencies could be causing ADHD symptoms.

Calcium is thought of as mainly a booster for bone health, but calcium is extremely important for a variety of functions in the body. Recent research suggests that a lack of calcium is tied to ADHD symptoms and regulating concentration and impulsive behavior.

A case report from Poland released in 1998 reviewing the mineral levels of 118 children with ADHD stated: "...deficiency of magnesium, copper, zinc, calcium, iron in the group of 116 children with diagnosed ADHD. Consequently, as a result, I have found out that a shortage of the above-mentioned bio elements occurs more often among hyperactive children than among those being healthy."

This case study and other reports have found that children and adults with ADHD are often deficient in minerals, although the researchers are not sure if individuals with ADHD require higher doses of minerals or simply have trouble absorbing the nutrients from food. Read on to learn how additional calcium supplements can be beneficial for individuals with ADHD

The Role of Calcium

Calcium has several benefits for your overall health. Calcium is stored in the bones, strengthening overall health and preventing bone-related illnesses and diseases. In fact, up to 1.6 of your body weight is actually calcium. Calcium moves easily through the body's cells and acts as a sort of carrier for other nutrients. Without calcium to carry nutrients through the body, you will die quickly.

However, since calcium is stored in the bones and teeth, it is rare for someone to actually die from a lack of calcium. Bone and teeth damage, however, are common in individuals who have low calcium intake. In the blood, calcium boosts the metabolism, regulates hormones, and prevents blood pressure spikes.

Calcium is used in the stomach to create digestive enzymes that make it easier to absorb nutrients. According to some research, individuals with ADHD tend to have trouble absorbing nutrients and require larger doses of nutrients (specifically B vitamins and zinc). Eating enough calcium ensures you can absorb the maximum amount of nutrients. Additionally, calcium is necessary to absorb vitamin B 12 properly, which is crucial for individuals with ADHD.

In 1997, a study published in The American Naturopathic Medical Association Monitor linked a lack of calcium with ADHD symptoms. According to the study author, about 52 percent of children with ADHD had a lack of calcium in their system. The study indicated that low levels of calcium can interfere with proper neurotransmission, leading to hyperactivity and other symptoms of ADHD. How Calcium Reduces ADHD Symptoms In addition to boosting nutrient absorption, calcium directly benefits ADHD symptoms and triggers through the role it plays in the brain.

A study on difficult horses from animal nutritionist Malcolm Green found a link between lack of nutrition in horses and difficult behavior similar to ADHD. Green theorized that horses, just like people, can suffer from ADHD and that calcium deficiencies, in particular, are linked with ADHD symptoms in horses (and people, supported by other studies).

Green stated in a case report:

 "...calcium is the molecule responsible for switching the nerve cells on. It controls the absorption of neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers that stimulate the nerve cell); it then initiates the nerve impulse which transmits the message along the nerve cell. And finally, it initiates the release of neurotransmitters enabling the nerve cell to pass its message on to its target cells and organs, helping the brain function normally.

While magnesium in excess can block this process, calcium itself only has positive effects on nerve and brain function. Put simply calcium controls many of the important functions in the cells that make up the brain so without the controlling hand of calcium, the brain stops functioning properly. But that’s not all, insufficient calcium in the brain leads to the spontaneous initiation of nerve impulses and short circuits between cells, which mean that messages are created for no reason and other important messages go to the wrong destinations."

Green's theories are now well-supported by other research, including data compiled by Dr. D. Pauli from the World Health Organization.

Dr. Pauli said in a report: “One of the most frequent triggers of ADHD has to do with the child’s nutritional status. When children suffer from deficiencies in important vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes, their brain’s biochemistry is thrown out of balance and they develop symptoms that are then labeled as ADHD. Calcium, chromium, and selenium deficiencies are among the common mineral deficiencies detected in children with ADHD.”

Along with magnesium, calcium and zinc are most often attributed to ADHD symptoms. Raising the intake level of these minerals has been shown to improve ADHD symptoms in children and adults. The biggest benefits calcium provides to individuals with ADHD are listed below:

Boosts Neurotransmitter Release

Calcium is basically the carrier for many other nutrients. Calcium is easily transferred between cells and it carries other nutrients with it. Calcium is essential for proper neurotransmitter release and regulation of the entire nervous system.

Boosts Nutrient Absorption

Since calcium can move nutrients from cell to cell and through the bloodstream quickly, it is essential for proper nutrient absorption. Children with ADHD typically are deficient in many common nutrients, making it extra important for them to receive higher doses of calcium in their diets.

Take Calcium with Other Minerals

Calcium alone will benefit ADHD symptoms, but it is not the only piece of the puzzle. Magnesium, zinc, copper, GABA, B vitamins, and iron are also commonly low in children and adults with ADHD. Although the nutritional component for ADHD is strong, changing the diet or adding supplements will not usually cure the condition if it is true ADHD, but instead, it will lessen symptoms and boost overall concentration. Calcium is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle as it is the carrier for ensuring you receive all the beneficial nutrients possible.

Other Nutrients that Fight ADHD
  • Magnesium
  • GABA
  • B vitamins
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Iron

How to Add More Calcium to Your Diet

In general, individuals with ADHD should consume at least 1200-1300 mg of calcium daily. This is about 4-5 servings of dairy daily. Most people consume far less dairy and calcium than that, which may be one reason why Americans typically have low bone density and trouble with ADHD.

Since it is difficult to eat that much calcium through food, supplements may be necessary. You can safely supplement for about half of your daily calcium needs. If there is no dairy allergy present, dairy is one of the easiest ways to ensure a high calcium intake. Cheese, milk, and yogurt all offer healthy calcium doses. You can also find calcium in dark leafy greens, oranges, sardines (or canned salmon with bones), and white beans.

Calcium Essential for ADHD

If you or your child is diagnosed with ADHD, you may not have to medicate. There are natural alternatives to ADHD medication that provide similar benefits without side effects. Before taking any prescription medications, test your blood for nutrient deficiencies. Try supplementing for missing nutrients for a few months and see if your symptoms improve. In many cases, you may find adding additional calcium and other nutrients to your diet eliminates the need for pricey and dangerous medication.





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