Using vitamins, supplements may help treat ADHD
New research suggests using vitamins, supplements may help treat ADHD symptoms. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), evidence from various studies (here and here) indicate using natural product-derived treatments and nutritional supplements were effective at treating mild to moderate ADHD. While results were positive when using Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), each study concludes that more research is needed before determining the definitive efficacy of this treatment approach. Before we dig into the research here’s a brief description of what ADHD is.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects children, teens, and adults. It is a chronic medical condition that includes difficulty with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD is typically discovered during the early school-age years and can persist into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble sitting still, waiting for their turn, lack focus, and self-control. This can affect their school experience, home life and maintaining friendships. Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing time, being organized, setting goals and holding down a job. They can also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addiction. As people age, ADHD in the geriatric population leads to “functional and psychosocial impairments”. This includes anxiety, depression, difficulty maintaining focus and concentration.
Research from a 2016 study examined the effect botanical agents – vitamins, minerals, amino acids – had on patients suffering from ADHD. Combining American ginseng extract, Panax quinquefolium, and Ginkgo biloba extracts had a positive effect on participants after 4 weeks of treatment. 50% of subjects showed enhanced brain functions in each of the three areas most troublesome in ADHD. That is hyperactivity, cognitive problems and oppositional behavior. The study continues with positive results from other controlled trials involving pine bark extract, st. john’s wort, ginseng, velerian, ningdong, bacopa, passion flower, vitamin c, iron, zinc and a number of amino acids.
Patients with ADHD also have lower levels of omega-3s in their blood. These fatty acids are found in walnuts, flaxseed, soy products, leafy greens, and fish such as salmon. Mounting evidence suggests that these same fatty acids may improve ADHD symptoms. Omega-3s, found in fish oil supplements, boost the body’s synthesis of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that ADHD medications act to increase. ADHD experts
Although these studies show positive results, more research is needed. Experts report that natural products are far from being a replacement for standard ADHD treatments. Instead, they suggest a combination of botanical agents, nutritional supplements and behavioral therapy with pharmacological treatments. As always, check with your doctor before combining any natural supplement, vitamin or mineral with prescribed medications.
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