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Zinc and ADHD

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Taking zinc supplements can help alleviate ADHD symptoms.

Attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is primary childhood disorder characterized by lack of attention span, impulsiveness, difficulty maintaining attention, and mental focus. 

It is estimated that 3 to 6% of school-aged children in the United States are affected by attention disorder and it has recently been recognized that the symptoms can persist into adulthood. 

Stimulant medications are the most common treatment for ADHD, but there are many people who do not benefit from stimulants or experience intolerable side effects. 

Zinc can contribute to behavioral changes through its regulatory effects on certain brain neurotransmitters, melatonin and fatty acids. For ADHD therapy, it is usually given in the dose 35 mg per day.

Several studies and researches have found that children inflicted with ADHD are more likely to be zinc-deficient than other children. In this article, we will evaluate the link between zinc and ADHD. 

Studies and Research

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. 

Researchers from Iran executed a controlled clinical trial to evaluate the benefits of prescribing zinc supplements alongside the more conventional methylphenidate treatment. 

The study involved 44 children who were diagnosed as suffering from ADHD; and none of these patients had taken any medication before the trail. 

For the six weeks, half the children were given zinc sulphate (55mg/day) in addition to the conventional treatment; while the other half were given a placebo. A child psychiatrist examined the children's improvements. 

The researchers found that children taking supplementary zinc sulphate on a daily basis showed significant improvements than those taking a placebo. 

Other Clinical Support for the use of Zinc in ADHD Therapy

Serum Zinc Levels and Hyperactivity

A 2005 study published in Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology by 9 researchers from the Ohio State University examined the relationship between serum levels of zinc and severity of ADHD symptoms.

48 children between the ages of 5 and 10 partook in the study. The zinc serum levels for these kids were determined and then the parents and teachers ratings of their ADHD symptoms were obtained. These parent and teacher ratings ranked the children for signs of hyperactivity and inattention.

The study results showed a strong correlation between serum zinc levels and the perceived extent of ADHD symptoms.

Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study of Zinc and ADHD

A 2004 study done by Turkish researches and published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry examined the link between zinc deficiency and ADHD.

This study involved 400 children around age 10 who were diagnosed with ADHD. Half of these children were placed on placebo while the other half were given 150 mg of zinc sulfate daily.

At the end of 12 weeks, these children were tested with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Scale (ADHDS), Conners Teacher Questionnaire, and DuPaul Parent Ratings of ADHD.

The study’s results showed that zinc supplementation produce more significant reduction in hyperactivity, impulsiveness and social symptoms of ADHD than the placebo. The study did not find marked improvement in attention span and focus after the zinc supplementation.

However, better outcomes for hyperactivity symptoms were seen in older study participants who had high BMI scores and low serum levels of zinc and free fatty acids. This group of ADHD patients is believed to benefit the most from zinc supplementation.

Zinc, Amphetamines and ADHD

A 1990 study published in International Journal of Neuroscience examined how measurement of zinc levels can help predict the effectiveness of amphetamines used in the treatment of ADHD.

The study involved 18 boys between the ages of 6 and 12 who were diagnosed with ADHD. The crossover design allows the study group to switch between placebo and dextroamphetamine during the one month of the study. Response to treatment was obtained from parents’ and teachers’ hyperactivity ratings.

The study measured both zinc levels in the hair and zinc levels in the urine over 24-hour periods. The results showed that the zinc measurements from hair samples provided a better indication of the efficacy of the amphetamine for treating ADHD.

In addition, higher zinc levels in the hair was strongly correlated with improving ADHD symptoms. These results show that ADHD children are also deficient in zinc, and that zinc supplementation might help improve ADHD symptoms.

Zinc and Information Processing in ADHD Children

A 2008 study published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry examined the potential effects of zinc on information processing in 28 boys diagnosed with ADHD.

The study participants were divided into two groups: those who have zinc deficiency and those who do not. 24 non-ADHD boys were used as controls. In both ADHD groups and the control group, brain activities in the regions responsible for information processing were measured using a technique called auditory oddball paradigm.

The results showed that the plasma zinc levels were lower in children in both ADHD groups than in children in the control group.

In addition, the control group showed better information processing than ADHD groups. However, the group of ADHD children without zinc deficiency showed better results than the ADHD children who also had zinc deficiency.

Benefits of Zinc 

Taking zinc supplements can help combat ADHD symptoms and other disorders. Some of the benefits are as follows: 

It provides protection against the oxidative damage of omega-3 fatty acids, which can be used as potent treatment options for ADHD. Thus, taking zinc supplements alongside omega-3 treatment can help optimize the benefits and cut down the negative effects. 

You may consider using Listol that contains both zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. It is an effective natural supplement for alleviating ADHD symptoms in adults and children.

Zinc is required to convert the inactive form of the vitamin B6 to the active pyridoxal phosphate form. Thus, zinc supplement with vitamin B6 can help in effectively alleviating ADHD symptoms. 

Zinc promotes the production of melatonin, a hormone which is known to play a vital role in maintaining the important neuro-chemical signaling agent called dopamine. 

Studies have proved that zinc might be more effective in treating the hyperactive/impulsive behavior in ADHD children, than the inattentive aspect of the disorder. 

Zinc supplements are known to increase the effectiveness of methylphenidate (such as Ritalin), used for treating ADHD and related disorders. 

Natural Sources of Zinc 

You may also consider giving zinc rich foods to your child to ensure that he stays healthy. Some good sources of zinc are oysters, beef, chicken, nuts, whole grains, seafood, and pork.

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Listol helps increase concentration and focus in kids and adults.