As children prepare to return to school, the concern for their health and their ability to learn over the coming semesters is naturally high on the minds of millions of parents all over the country. For children who have been diagnosed with issues like ADHD, the school year can present countless challenges as they struggle to keep up with their classmates, maintain good grades, and stay focused on being able to enjoy their childhood.
Once referred to as ADD or attention deficit disorder, ADHD is the acronym for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition that causes difficulty for people to control spontaneous responses such as movement, speech, and attentiveness. Unfortunately, cases of ADHD in children are sometimes dismissed simply as behavioral issues including laziness, lack of discipline, and lack of respect for authority. But jitteriness, short-temperateness, inability to focus, impulsive speech or actions, and an inability to get along with other children can often actually be some of the ADHD symptoms in children, as well.
The three most common characteristics of ADHD in children are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, though the accompanying signs and symptoms a child may exhibit largely depends on which characteristics prevail. In fact, some children with ADHD are hyperactive and can’t sit still, while others sit very still and remain very quiet as their focus wanders off. Some children may focus too intently on one task and experience difficulty in focusing on something new, and others may be only mildly inattentive, yet extremely impulsive.
Health studies have shown a 23 percent increase in the prevalence of mental health diagnoses in children, and children in the South are nearly twice as likely than other children nationwide to be diagnosed with ADHD. Overall, ADHD accounts for three of every four diagnoses in mental health disorders in America.
According to international research, ADHD has a genetic link as well as certain other risk factors that increase development of the disorder and can worsen the symptoms. Dietary links have shown strong relations to the consumption of refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and chemical food additives as well as nutritional deficiencies and food allergies. For children with ADHD, there is also a certain relationship between the condition and a lack of interest or forcing them to learn in ways that are not natural to their mental processes.
Start a Food Fight
There are natural ways to treat and minimize the symptoms of ADHD; and as you approach the school year, one of the best weapons in your arsenal as a parent can be as simple as what you are packing in your child’s lunchbox.
- Focus on additive-free, unprocessed foods. Food additives including artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and artificial colorings can be toxic, especially for children with ADHD.
- Concentrate on including a large amount of vitamin B- rich foods in their diets. B vitamins help maintain a healthy nervous system, so include organic meats and dark, leafy green vegetables in their meals each day. Vitamin B6 is critical to the production and proper use of essential brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine and can be one of the most effective ways to improve behavior in children with ADHD.
- Get plucky with poultry, as tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps the body synthesize proteins and supports the production of serotonin, a hormone that plays significant roles in critical functions like regulating sleep; reducing inflammation; and balancing mood. Studies have proven that serotonin is also related to controlling impulsive behavior and aggression.
- Set the alarm for breakfast. For children with ADHD, breakfast is crucial in giving the body everything it needs to regulate blood sugar levels and stabilize the hormones, so a protein packed breakfast should be at the top of the list when you’re planning their morning.
- Go fish. Feeding your child wild caught salmon and tuna provides them with vitamin B6 as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce learning and behavioral problems often associated with ADHD.
As a parent, you’re likely already aware of the importance of children’s vitamins in maintaining your children’s wellness. For children with ADHD, vitamin deficiencies and nutrient deficiencies can become even more of an issue, as those deficiencies can worsen their symptoms. In addition to taking supplements to fill in those gaps that may exist in their dietary sources of essential vitamins and minerals, there are also other natural remedies you can rely on:
- Fish oil (1,000mg daily). Fish oil contains EPA/DHA critical to proper brain function reducing inflammation.
- Vitamin B-Complex (50 mg daily).
B vitamins, especially vitamin B6, support serotonin production.
- Multivitamins (include 5 mg zinc, 250 mg magnesium, and 500 mg calcium). Aiming for these amounts twice a day help calm the nervous system.
- Probiotic (25-50 billion units daily). ADHD is sometimes linked to digestive issues, so maintaining proper digestive health can reduce symptoms.
- GABA (250 mg).
Two daily doses of the amino acid GABA can help calm the nervous system.
In addition, Rhodiola Rosea is an herbal supplement that has been shown to improve focus by supporting the function of the neurological and nervous systems to produce serotonin and dopamine. The essential oils of vetiver and cedarwood are also effective in improving focus and calm. Rosemary and peppermint oils increase alertness and improve memory; Ylang Ylang and lavender are calming; and frankincense promotes emotional wellness, increases clarity, and heightens cognitive function.
It’s important for children with ADHD to have an environment that supports their creativity and promotes learning, so making a few changes to their home environment and their lifestyle can help.
- Be affectionate to provide them with the reassurance that they are not a bad child. Find effective ways to compliment and reinforce their self-worth while still holding them accountable for poor behavior.
- Give them opportunities to accomplish goals and succeed. Engaging them in creative activities can challenge them and give their talents the chance to shine.
- Encourage regular physical activity and playtime outdoors. Children with ADHD need to burn off some of their excess energy, which can help balance hormone levels at the same time as it helps them build and maintain healthy bones and muscles.
- Organize their world in a child-friendly way. Find the methods of organization that is specific to the needs of your child and are adapted to the ways that they learn. Teaching them how to prioritize tasks such as homework, chores, exercise, and extracurricular activities can help them learn better focus.
- Teach them the importance of food and cooking. ADHD is often linked to diet, so teaching your child which foods will help them or contribute to their disorder can be crucial in managing their symptoms.
Having a child with ADHD can present challenges both now and in the future; but with proper attention, the symptoms they experience can be managed and even eliminated without the need for medication. If you are hoping to find effective solutions for your child, take advantage of your Ask Everwell consultation to get one-on-one time with experts who can help you design a plan that will help your child have a more successful future.
Refocus your attention on your child’s mental health! Schedule your Ask Everwell consultation at Everwell Specialty Pharmacy to learn more about ADHD in children and shop our line of children’s supplements and healthcare products today!