Conventional treatments for ADHD have included psychostimulants such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Desoxyn that suppress spontaneous behavior. Research has shown that the use of these drugs provides very few if any positive long-term benefits. In addition, serious physical and emotional side effects are seen in children while taking these powerful medications. New nonstimulant drugs with fewer harsh side effects are currently being introduced as a safer alternative. Allergies from genetically altered food and additives may also trigger symptoms of ADHD and hyperactivity. An elimination diet that will pinpoint possible food allergens is recommended. Hormone imbalances such as an overactive thyroid should be checked in both adults and children with ADHD.
Complementary strategies such as behavior modification, physical exercise, and avoidance of environmental toxins can be a safe and effective approach in managing ADHD. Poor nutrition early in life can have long-term effects on brain development and functioning. Many adults and children with ADHD are lacking in vital nutrients. Research has shown that proper supplementation can significantly reduce the severity of their symptoms. Nutritional supplements and appropriate dosages for children should be physician-supervised based on total medical treatment, age, and body size.
We supply a formula for children that may be used as an alternative to Ritalin. The Attentive Child formula
is chewable and contains a balanced mix of supplements shown to help children cope with ADD. Adults with ADD may also benefit from this formula.Adults are not exempt from ADD.
Adults with ADD may be highly disorganized, prone to outbursts of temper and have an inability to cope with stress. Other problems include low self-esteem; anxiety, depression and inappropriate social behavior are symptomatic. Often, adults with ADD self medicate with alcohol or drugs. Academic failure may persist through adulthood.
Eliminate dietary antagonists. Nutritional supplementation will increase the body's ability to concentrate and remember.Recommended reading:
- What's Food Got to Do with It? - Hills, Wyman
- No More Ritalin - Dr. Mary Block
- Nutrition and Behavior - Keats Publishing
- Essential fatty acids: DHA from fish oil is the most important essential fatty acid for the brain. The recommended daily dose of DHA is 1000-2000 mg daily for adults and 500-1000 mg daily for children. For those who cannot afford DHA fish oil, flax oil or plant-based DHA may work because it usually converts in the body to DHA (and EPA). Flax oil liquid may also be easier for children to take than DHA capsules.
- Vitamins and minerals: Life Extension Mix Powder - 1tsp. mixed with juice and Children's Formula Life Extension Mix are ideal sources of many vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B and C, zinc, and magnesium, vital in maintaining the health of neurotransmitters. Follow dosing recommendations on the product label.
- Choline helps to restore low levels of acetylcholine in the brain. A suggested dose is 1000-6000 mg daily to boost memory and concentration. However, it is difficult to obtain enough choline in dietary supplements. Adults can obtain high potencies of choline and other nutrients for the brain in a product called Cognitex. Children may have to rely on choline powders with an unpleasant taste. DMAE is a more convenient way for some children to obtain acetylcholine precursors.
- DMAE helps accelerate synthesis of acetylcholine. Adults: Begin at a low dose of 100 mg in the morning and 100 mg in the evening on an empty stomach, gradually building up to 500 mg twice daily. Some individuals do well remaining at a low dose because side effects such as headaches, muscle tenseness, and insomnia may occur at higher doses. Children: half the recommendation for adults.
- Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that is vital to neuronal functioning and brain metabolism. Adults: 100-400 mg daily for people with neuronal dysfunction. Children: 100 mg daily.
- Amino acids: Be sure to eat well-balanced meals with complete protein. Adults: glutamine, 1 or more grams daily; and GABA, 1/8-1/4 tsp daily. Children: glutamine, 250-500 mg daily; and GABA, 1/8 tsp daily. Twin Lab Amino Fuel - 2 to 3 tblsp.
- Herbs such as ginkgo and ginseng will improve blood flow to the brain and help remove toxins from the body. Life Extension Herbal Mix enables one to obtain high potencies of brain-boosting herbal extracts along with some acetylcholine precursors. The advantage of Life Extension Herbal Mix is that it comes in a powder form that some children will find palatable. Adults: 1 tbsp daily. Children: 1 tsp daily.
- Theanine helps calm the nervous system without sedation. Adults: 300-400 mg daily. Children: 100-200 mg daily.
- DHEA: Low levels of the neurosteroid DHEA are associated with ADHD. Blood testing is highly recommended first to eliminate the possibility of hormone-related cancers and to establish a baseline for supplementation. DHEA supplementation is not appropriate for children.
- Adapton, 2 pills before breakfast and 2 pills after school for 2 weeks, followed by 2 pills before breakfast 3 days per week
- Mind-body techniques: Try massage, biofeedback, meditation, and routine setting. Avoid information overload.
- Exercise: The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on most days of the week and a minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous activity 3-4 days a week. This level of activity is shown to help prevent a wide variety of behavioral and physical disorders in children.
- Environmental health: Avoid pollutants including PCBs and heavy metals (often found in fish). Buy organic foods whenever possible and use air and water filters.
- Diet: Try allergy testing and a Feingold-type elimination diet. Avoid sugar.
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