Posted on by Margo Gladding
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions in children. Symptoms often include inattention, poor concentration, difficulty organizing, impulsiveness, restlessness and impatience. Boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls. However, research indicates that up to 75% of girls may be underdiagnosed. This may be due to gender differences in how ADHD manifests. Females with ADHD are reported to have fewer hyperactive/impulsive symptoms, more inattentive symptoms, and less disruptive behavior than males with ADHD. Because of these differences, some individuals (mainly females) may not get diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood.
Adult symptoms of ADHD may not be as clear as ADHD symptoms in children. Hyperactivity may decrease, but struggles with impulsiveness, disorganization, restlessness, and difficulty paying attention tend to persist. While there is no single root cause of ADHD, there are many underlying factors, all of which are different for each person. For example, genetics, environmental toxins, food sensitivities, nutrient and biochemical imbalances, dietary triggers, trauma, sleep disturbances, as well as gut dysbiosis have been shown to play a role. Working with a skilled healthcare practitioner can help to determine a person's unique set of contributing factors and map out an individualized plan.
Conventional treatment of ADHD involves medication and behavioral therapy. However, even with these combined treatments, research shows that at least one-third of patients are still symptomatic. Taking an individualized, whole-body approach to ADHD involves investigating all of the many factors that can impact one’s health. This holistic approach can be taken alongside conventional treatment and can produce very positive results for both children and adults.
7 Key Areas for Addressing ADHD
To promote optimal mental and behavioral health, here are some important factors to investigate:
1. Nutrient Imbalance
Specific nutrient imbalances have been shown to play a major role in mental and emotional health. For example, excess copper levels can increase oxidative stress and manifest as displays of aggression, hyperactivity, insomnia, and anxiety. In addition, deficiencies in nutrients such as zinc and vitamin B6 can impact the body’s ability to make important neurotransmitters and result in anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Identifying and correcting nutrient imbalances can have a powerful effect on brain functioning.
Methylation is a very important biochemical process, critical for DNA maintenance, energy production, detoxification, immune function and neurotransmitter production. Genetic mutations can cause abnormalities in the body’s methylation cycle. Methylation problems (undermethylation or overmethylation) can negatively affect neurotransmitter activity and impact mental and emotional health. Once identified through lab testing, methylation imbalances can be effectively addressed through targeted nutrient therapy and diet modifications.
3. Gut health
Microbiome imbalances, yeast toxicity, digestion and absorption issues, as well as inflammation can all impact immune and nervous system health. Identifying the areas that need attention and optimizing GI health can have a dramatic impact on mental well-being and brain function.
Through the gut-brain connection, food plays a significant role in health. Certain compounds in foods, additives, or highly processed foods can make ADHD symptoms worse by triggering inflammation. Identifying your unique dietary needs and food sensitivities, removing triggering foods/ingredients, and eating nutritious, whole foods can make a significant impact on one’s health.
5. Nutrient gaps
Beyond zinc and vitamin B6, adequate amounts of other important nutrients such as iron, vitamin D, vitamin A, magnesium, and essential fatty acids are critical for healthy brain function, nervous system health and mental well-being. Studies show that individuals with ADHD are often deficient in key nutrients. Unfortunately, even healthy diets may not provide optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Therefore, supplementation is highly recommended.
6. Heavy metals & toxin exposure
Research suggests that toxins, such as those found in foods, carpeting, flooring, cleaning products and personal-care products, can harm neurological function, especially during prenatal development, infancy, and childhood. Reducing toxin exposure and supporting healthy detoxification is essential for health.
Chronic stress negatively impacts health in so many ways. Taking measures to reduce and manage stress can make a big difference in overall well-being and improve ADHD symptoms. For example, mindfulness practices as well as exposure to natural green settings have been shown to help to reduce stress levels and enhance attention and concentration. In addition, physical activity can relieve stress and help to reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity as well as improve attention and executive functioning.
ADHD is a complex disorder that is influenced by variety of factors, including genetics, nutrition, and one’s environment. By taking a whole-person approach, that includes advanced laboratory testing and understanding one’s unique biochemistry, a personalized plan can be created to address ADHD and optimize health.
Village Green has a team of nutrition experts available to answer your questions about natural strategies to addressing ADHD. Feel free to reach out to us! If you are looking for greater support and guidance, we invite you to schedule an in-depth consultation with one of our nutritionists or naturopathic doctors.
Humanized Health - NEW!
Learn about personalized health from top experts! Check out our fascinating new shows every week, available as videos, podcasts and transcripts.:
Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
Margo's impressive knowledge base is the result of a unique blend of educational and professional experience.
Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. Barnard leads programs advocating for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research.
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND is a pioneer of integrative medicine and a leading authority on science-based natural medicine.
Debi is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition, a personal trainer, and whole health coach.
Teri is a is a Certified Coach Practitioner with extensive certifications and experience in holistic medicinal practices.
Dr. Rav Ivker
Dr. Rav Ivker is a holistic family physician, health educator, and best-selling author.
Susan writes about the connection between plant-based diets and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
Dr. Rob Brown
Dr. Brown's blended perspective of healthcare includes a deeply rooted passion for wellness and spiritual exploration.