Under the Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is classified as a developmental disorder that sets in childhood and progresses through other stages of lifespan development.
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Neurodevelopmental disorder is characterized by symptoms of hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsive behavior that affect an individual in their social interactions.
Stimulant drugs are the first line of treatment for ADHD. The stimulant class of medicines comprises widely used drugs including Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine, which work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain.
For many people stimulants have been known to boost concentration while reducing inattentiveness and hyperactivity.
However, the side effects of stimulants lead to the exploration of alternative treatment options including the use of supplements and non-stimulant drugs.
Research conducted among ADHD patients shows that low levels of certain vitamins and minerals are attributed to the increasing cases of ADHD.
In some cases, vitamin and mineral deficiency may arise from continued use of stimulant drugs that suppress appetite and decrease nutritional intake.
Supplementing these nutrients with over-the-counter supplements can help people make up for this deficiency and improve attention with minimum side effects.
The most effective supplements used in treating ADHD symptoms include:
Iron is necessary for the production of the brain chemical dopamine, which improves ADHD symptoms.
In one study conducted on children suffering from ADHD, the children were reported to have low levels of ferritin with averages of 22 as compared to 44 in non-ADHD children.
Ferritin is a protein needed to store iron in the blood and help in the normal functioning of the brain.
Taking iron supplements increases the levels of iron in the blood, which aids in suppressing ADHD symptoms. Before administering iron supplements, it is important to test for ferritin levels, which measures circulating iron as compared to the hemoglobin levels in the blood.
Children with ADHD are more likely to have magnesium deficiency as compared to neurotypical children. Magnesium contributes to the functioning of the neurotransmitter serotonin involved in attention and focus.
It helps to calm hyperactivity and agitation which compromises attention.
A magnesium deficiency leads to neurological disruption that causes reduced attention span, irritability, and hyperactivity.
Administering magnesium supplements ensures sufficient brain energy to help in calming down the central nervous system.
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Essential Fatty Acids Supplements
Omega 3 is a major supplement used in the treatment of ADHD. As an essential fatty acid, it contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are found in low levels among ADHD patients.
Omega-3 fatty acids affect how dopamine and serotonin move around in the frontal cortex of the brain thus aiding communication between brain cells.
The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health recommends omega -3 supplements from fish oils and phosphatidylserine as essential in cell signaling, which helps improve focus.
For vegetarians, algae oil supplements are available but the intake is recommended on a higher dosage to get enough EPA and DHA.
Vitamins that help in concentration and focus can be used as natural treatment options for ADHD. Deficiencies of vitamin B, particularly B6 cause fatigue and irritability among DHD patients.
Adequate levels of this vitamin can help decrease anxiety and irritability by promoting alertness.
Vitamin C plays a fundamental role in the production of dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitters that helps to increase concentration levels in ADHD patients.
However, vitamin C inhibits the effectiveness of ADHD stimulants hence should be administered at least one hour prior to taking the medicines.
Vitamin D supports acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter in maintaining concentration and impulse control. It further facilitates the growth of nerve cells for executive functioning and memory storage, which are impaired in ADHD patients.
Vitamin supplements result in improvement in cognitive functioning while reducing impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Do ADHD Supplements Have Side Effects?
ADHD prescription stimulants are still the most effective treatment option for ADHD. However, supplements are recommended to make up for lost vitamins and minerals essential in the proper functioning of the brain.
The effectiveness of these supplements will vary among patients but improvements in ADHD symptoms should occur within the first three months after administration.
Before taking any supplements, it is important to have all the necessary tests done to ensure there are deficiency levels in the body.
If taken in high doses, supplements increase the risk of hemorrhage, blood thinning, and stomach upsets. Furthermore, they can interact with stimulant drugs in ways that may reduce their effectiveness.
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At EZCare Clinic, we care about adolescents and adults with ADHD.
Our clinic comprises an interdisciplinary team specializing in the evaluation, treatment, and support of individuals with attention deficits, learning problems, and related behavioral difficulties.
We also provide free professional counseling services for guardians and caregivers to better manage ADHD.