Several nutritional deficiencies are linked to ADHD and there are a lot of supplements are on the market that claim to ease ADHD symptoms, but do they really work?
Here are 3 common deficiencies that respond well to supplementation:
1. Omega 3
Omega 3s are consistently measured at lower levels in individuals with ADHD. This is important because our brains need them to be strong and to function optimally. Low levels are associated with problems concentrating, inattentiveness, and insomnia.
In addition, Omega 3s stimulate dopamine production and low dopamine is consistently linked to ADHD symptoms.
Should you supplement?
Most people in western countries are not consuming enough Omega 3s in their diet. Two servings per week of fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines, or mackerel would provide enough. But, with picky eaters, and expensive seafood, that isn’t easy for most families.
Omega 3 supplements provide a good safety net but not all Omega 3 supplements are created equal. You want to look for:
Purity tested (heavy metal and BPA/plastic contamination can adversely affect brain health so always check the label for evidence of purity testing)
At least 1000mg of Omega 3 in a daily dose for children 5 and older
Ideally the ratio of DHA:EPA is 1:2 for ADHD, as in Nutrasea ADHD, but if that’s not available in your area (or out of stock), any good quality Omega 3 is better than none
2. Vitamin D
This one surprises most people because we associate vitamin D with bone and immune health. But new research shows it is crucial for brain health and it’s involved in the production and function of the dopamine system.
The only way to get vitamin D without a supplement is to be out in direct sunlight for 20 minutes a day with your face and arms exposed (a hard pill to swallow in Canada between November and April!). Luckily, vitamin D supplements provide an easy safety net.
What to look for in a supplement:
Look for supplements with Vitamin D3, which is the form our body uses best.
A daily dose of at least 500 IU is ideal.
Note: many high-quality fish oils will also contain a daily dose of Vitamin D.
For solo Vitamin D: Kidstar D3 Spray contains 500 IU per spray, which is a fun delivery method for kids.
This one isn’t on most people’s radar, but it is often seen at lower levels in ADHD and the degree of deficiency is linked to the severity of ADHD symptoms. One study showed low iron scores may explain up to 30% of ADHD severity!
*Important: Too much iron can be just as harmful as too little, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before supplementing.
If you do supplement, your best option is a liquid (to maximize absorption). Kidstar Unflavoured Iron Liquid is a great option as it doesn’t cause any of the big 3 problems associated with iron: staining teeth, constipation, or metallic taste.
Before trying any supplement to help with ADHD, it’s always best to check with a nutrition or health professional. They can help you determine which supplements are best for you based on your personal health history, symptoms, current diet, comorbidities, and lifestyle.
Shawna Hughes is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who helps families and individuals thrive with ADHD by creating customized health roadmaps to help them shift toward a diet that provides optimal nutrients for the brain. She also coaches clients to introduce simple lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life without an overwhelming lifestyle overhaul.
You can find Shawna on Instagram @shawnahughesadhdnutrition. Learn more about her services by visiting her website www.shawnahughesnutrition.com and save 25% off all consultation packages with your Healthy Moms Discount Card!