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Table of Contents > Articles > A Healthy Diet May Help Calm AD/HD ...
A Healthy Diet May Help Calm AD/HD Children

If you have a child who suffers from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, (AD/HD), you may feel especially concerned about how to best navigate your child through the joyful but still rather stressful holiday period. AD/HD is characterized by difficulty in concentrating, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, and/or a combination of symptoms. AD/HD is common among children and is on the rise, affecting 3% to 5% of school-aged children.

Conventional treatment for AD/HD generally combines drug therapy with various types of behavioral interventions such as support groups, social skills training, parent training, and psychotherapy. Helping your child tap into strengths (intensity, energy, expressiveness, joy) that go along with AD/HD can help you and your child gain some perspective on the AD/HD behavior. In addition to conventional therapies, there are currently a number of promising alternatives. Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies may be beneficial for mild cases, possibly reducing the necessity of drug therapy altogether, or, in more serious cases, lowering the dosage of medication. Diet and nutrition are among those CAM therapies that have shown promise for AD/HD sufferers.

Numerous studies document the importance of diet, in some children with AD/HD, especially those with other allergies. For children with asthma, eczema or hives, you might consider eliminating from their diet dairy products, peanuts, corn citrus and tomatoes, all of which are common allergens. Other potential problem foods include chocolate, highly sweetened foods and food additives.

Supplementing your child's diet with essential fatty acids (EFAs) may be beneficial. Children with AD/HD have been found to have low levels of EFA in their blood. Cold water fish like trout or salmon is a good source of EFAs. EFA deficiency is often accompanied by dry skin, increased thirst, frequent urination, eczema and asthma. Other symptoms include headaches, stomachache, diarrhea, constipation, and difficulty sleeping.

Vitamins and minerals

A multivitamin/mineral supplement may help to improve a child's academic performance. Calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc are especially important.

Because AD/HD is often misdiagnosed and mistreated, the most important step is solid medical diagnosis. Your doctor's evaluation should assess all aspects of your child's life (bio-psycho-social) through observation of your child, extensive interviewing and history taking, including input from the parents and teachers in order to make the most helpful and accurate intervention. Information on diet is extremely important; you and your doctor may be able to identify foods that trigger AD/HD behavior in your child and to develop dietary strategies for alleviating some of the symptoms.


Shannon, S. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. The Integrative Medicine Consult. September 2000

Review Date: December 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

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