ADD and ADHD Treatment in Smithtown
Nutritional Approaches to ADD and ADHD Treatment in Smithtown
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are strikingly prevalent disorders, affecting an estimated 7% to 11% of the total population. Because ADD and ADHD cause difficulties in attention that affect learning, memory, and concentration, they are often diagnosed during childhood when it interferes with academic performance. Treatment for these disorders usually takes the form of prescription stimulant medications, such as methylphenidates like Ritalin or amphetamines like Adderall. Unfortunately, these types of medications can have undesirable side effects, including sleeplessness and reduced appetite. This can make them undesirable for some people, including the millions of children who have been diagnosed with ADD and ADHD.
The risks of these medications cause many concerned parents to take a keen interest in other possible approaches to treatment. In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy, a non-pharmaceutical approach based on behavioral changes, and neurofeedback therapy, a sophisticated form of biofeedback that targets electrical activity in the brain, numerous studies have shown nutritional and dietary changes to be effective for helping to manage ADD and ADHD. A balanced diet, rich in key vitamins and minerals known to affect cognition, attention, and other mental processes, may be highly beneficial for keeping ADD and ADHD symptoms in check.
Dietary Changes for ADD and ADHD Treatment
A healthy, balanced diet is important for mental and physical health. Some studies have suggested that certain dietary changes can help with these disorders, including:
- A diet rich in protein. Protein has many uses in the body, including the production of chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals function in communication between neurons and areas of the brain. ADD and ADHD treatment often involves increasing the availability of two of these chemicals, norepinephrine and dopamine, which are often deficient in certain areas of the brain in people with attention deficit disorders—this is what prescription stimulants affect. An adequate supply of dietary protein is necessary for proper manufacture and function of neurotransmitters. Eating protein also helps prevent surges in blood sugar, which can exacerbate hyperactivity.
- Avoid refined sugar. Many Americans ingest too much refined sugar, often in the form of cookies, candy, sodas, and other foods that are decidedly lacking in overall nutritional value. Too much sugar can cause increased hyperactivity in children with ADHD.
- Taking a good multivitamin can help ensure that all micronutrients are accounted for. This can be especially helpful for children with ADD who are “picky eaters” and may refuse to eat foods containing nutrients they need.
- B vitamins, especially B-6, are integral to a variety of brain processes and functions on a cellular level. An adequate supply of B-complex vitamins can help with ADD treatment by increasing focus and concentration.
- Zinc, a key micronutrient, is necessary for the synthesis of dopamine, a neurotransmitter implicated in ADD and ADHD. Some studies have indicated that many ADD and ADHD individuals may also be mildly zinc deficient.
- Iron, like zinc, is needed for dopamine synthesis. Studies have shown that people with ADD and ADHD often have relatively low levels of iron.
In most cases, none of these nutrients alone are entirely sufficient for comprehensive ADD treatment; however, adequate nutrition is crucial for ensuring optimal cognitive function, and people with attention deficit disorders may tend to be lacking in certain nutrients such as iron and zinc. A healthy, balanced diet rich in protein, along with vitamin supplementation, can be helpful in keeping ADD symptoms at bay, especially in children for whom stimulant medications may not be an ideal approach.