written by: Elysia Arseneau, Ontario Certified Teacher and NutriChem staff writer
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders, affecting 5-12% of school-aged children worldwide. While we often associate ADHD with children, its symptoms can also continue through adolescence and adulthood, affecting people in their relationships and at work.
Symptoms of ADHD typically include symptoms from two different sets of criteria: the inattention group of criteria and the hyperactivity and impulsivity criteria. These symptoms can include (but are not limited to):
To be diagnosed with ADHD, a person must display at least 6 symptoms from either the inattention group of criteria or the hyperactivity and impulsivity criteria, and qualified practitioners must do the assessments and diagnosis. To find out more about the subtypes and criteria associated with of ADHD, sign up for NutriChem’s online webinar happening tomorrow night.
Often, the first line of treatment for an ADHD diagnosis is drug therapy: there has been a rise in prescription stimulants and other psychoactive medications for children in the last few years. The use of these medications does not come without significant short- and long-term effects, which could include increased blood pressure and decreased growth.
Before putting your child on medication, try exploring the biochemical factors that could be contributing to his or her ADHD symptoms.
Low ferritin can cause fatigue and lack of concentration in both children and adults. Check your child's iron levels and consult with a clinician to see if supplementation is needed. Feeding your child iron-rich foods such as organ meats, dried beans, lentils, blackstrap molasses, and sardines could also help.
Research has demonstrated that sleep problems can either mimic or worsen some symptoms of ADHD. Ensuring that your child is getting enough good quality sleep could help relieve symptoms of ADHD. Supplementing with melatonin or L-theanine might be recommended by a Naturopathic Doctor to help optimize your child's sleep cycle.
Many individuals with ADHD experience significant improvement when taking a magnesium supplement. Testing blood levels of magnesium is often a poor indicator of the total magnesium in a person's body, but having a full biochemistry test could help indicate if a person needs to supplement with this crucial mineral.
Food intolerances can increase inflammation in the body and worsen symptoms of ADHD. Undergoing food intolerance testing to see if your child is reacting to anything could benefit your child. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback stated that “diet modification plays a major role in the management of ADHD and should be considered as part of the treatment protocol.”
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“I am a super sensitive person and I react to most new supplements, medications, and can’t tolerate a variety of foods”. I hear this statement a lot from patients and it is often my first clue that I should be investigating their allergic history.