Nutritional support is so necessary for kids with ADHD and deficits in attention.
Why is this true? The main reason is that we just don’t get what we need in the standard American diet.
We are also bombarded with more chemicals, toxins, hormone mimicking substances, medications and artificial compounds than at any time in human history. Our bodies need the ability to deal with these novel substances. If we’re not inherently endowed with those abilities, we need nutraceutical help to deal with those that cannot be avoided. There are solutions, because we believe in the innate power of the body, including the brain, to heal itself, to grow and develop according to a miraculous plan. Providing the appropriate substrates for this process just makes scientific sense. We can promote a more balanced neurochemistry with specific amino acids and supplements, either as an add on to medication or instead of medication.
Here’s the nutraceutical solution:
The dopamine receptor (a landing station for dopamine), is activated by the binding of dopamine, and ultimately sends along the dopamine signal. This receptor flips over in a rapid, vibratory manner in order to transmit the dopamine signal. This activity is dependent on vitamin B6. B vitamins are quite safe and can be taken at about double the recommended daily allowance for age. I typically recommend a B complex vitamin, inclusive of B6, because B12 and folate are all so critically important for brain function.
We’ve spoken previously of the importance of the omega 3 fatty acids. Brain cells, their outer layers, and their receptors are primarily composed of lipids, or fats. Most of these are phospholipids of the omega 3 variety. When phospholipids are plentiful, membranes and their signaling activities seem to be stabilized and more predictable. Benefits of membrane and receptor stability include improved mood stability, improved memory and word retrieval, and a reduction in cognitive decline in the elderly population. For children with ADHD, I recommend at least
2 teaspoons of purified arctic cod liver oil per day
2 egg yolks daily to infuse the body with these essential fatty acids.
phenylalanine 500 mg AM
We know that psychostimulants (drugs like Ritalin) work well in most people affected by ADHD. This class of drugs works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine (both of which are important brain chemicals) throughout various brain regions. Given this information, are there ways that we can naturally enhance dopamine and norepinephrine activity to alleviate or reduce the need for medications like Ritalin? The amino acid phenylalanine, is the building block of dopamine and norepinephrine. By supplementing with phenylalanine, enhanced production of dopamine can be measured in urine as the increased metabolite, PEA. About 500 mg of phenylalanine can be taken each morning to naturally boost the production of these important brain chemicals. By doing so, one may experience the benefits of increased dopamine production, which helps us feel reward for accomplishments, and norepinephrine, which is helpful for controlling impulsivity and attention span. [Phenylalanine should not be given to someone with PKU, phenylketonuria, or with a tic disorder.]
According to recent research, environmental toxins play a role in the development of ADHD. Eliminating toxins then becomes of paramount importance to preserve cellular and molecular functions impeded by such toxins. Elimination is aided by regular and complete bowel movements, adequate hydration with purified water, reduced intake of animal fat, avoidance of liver toxins (like acetaminophen) and the support of natural detoxification with reduced glutathione 200 mg/day (or its precursor, N-acetyl cysteine), carnosine 500 mg/day, alpha lipoic acid 200 mg/day, and foods rich in sulfur (onion, garlic, artichoke, kale, etc).
reduced glutathione 200 mg/day
alpha lipoic acid 200 mg/day
carnosine 500 mg/day
While the list of nutritional support for attention span and impulse control may go on, I find the above recommendations to be appropriate for most everyone diagnosed with ADHD, young or old, medicated or not. For more detailed information these topics, check out the written portion of the blog.
Remember that your doctor should be aware of any nutritional supplement your taking in order to make accurate decisions regarding your health care.
Please register for our free live webinar on July 11, 7PM EST. Where additional details will be provided and you can post your own questions for me to answer.
Dr. Karen H. Harum, MD
Diplomate, Neurodevelopmental disabilities