Is ADHD really a disability? Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADD or ADHD) is defined as a condition in which a child has an inability to concentrate, shows disruptive behavior, lack of concentration and sometimes excessive physical activity.
ADHD has been associated with learning difficulties and a lack of social skills. Obviously, what constitutes “normal” in these areas covers a wide spectrum. Thus, it is unclear which child suffers true ADHD and which child is just more rebellious or rambunctious than another. No objective criteria exist to accurately confirm ADHD.
ADHD often goes undiagnosed if not caught at an early age, and it affects many adults who may not know of their condition.
Common Characteristics & Symptoms Found In Children With ADHD?
These are some common characteristics found in ADHD sufferers:
- Easy Distractibility or Shortness of attention span
- Hyperactivity and Aggressive Behavior
- Impulsivity or Poor impulse control
- Attention Demanding Behavior
- School Difficulties and Learning Disorders
- Difficulties in Coordination
- Resistant, Oppositional and Domineering Social Behavior
- Emotional Difficulties
- Changing Problems with Age
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder
The two dietary approaches to ADHD that have been studied the most are the Feingold and hypoallergenic diet.
The Feingold Diet
A Researcher by the name of Benjamin Feingold, found out about this diet. The Feingold Diet works on the basis that salicylates are an underlying cause of hyperactivity. Salicylates is a chemical similar to aspirin which is found in a wide variety of foods. Not all studies have shown positive results.
However, in different researches where different levels of salicylates were investigated, a causative role for salicylates could be detected in some hyperactive children. According to a study, 10 to 25% of children may be sensitive to salicylates. Parents whose children suffer from ADHD can find more information from their local Feingold Association about which foods and medicines contain salicylates.
Eliminating synthetic additives, dyes, and chemicals, which are commonly added to processed foods is the main part of the Feingold Diet. In controlled studies of ADHD-affected children, it was found that the yellow dye tartrazine provokes symptoms in these children. Not every child reacts, but many do so that a trial avoidance may be worthwhile.
The Feingold diet requires guidance from either the Feingold Association or a healthcare expert familiar with the Feingold diet, due to its complexity.
The Hypoallergenic Diet is a program designed clinically to help you identify the food triggers of chronic disease. This Diet is also known as the elimination diet.
This diet uses re-introduction and elimination of food in order to identify the foods that can cause problematic symptoms in sensitive individuals.
In one research, children diagnosed with ADHD were put on a hypoallergenic diet, and those children who improved (about one-third) were then challenged with food additives.
All the children experienced an aggravation of symptoms when given these additives. Eliminating allergenic foods and additives from the diet of ADHD children can help improve their attention problems. This has been found in many studies.
Some parents think that sugar consumption also aggravates ADHD. One study found that avoiding sugar-reduced aggressiveness and restlessness in hyperactive children.
Restricting sugar in Girls with ADHD has been found to improve their symptoms more than boys. However, a study using large amounts of sugar and aspartame found that negative reactions to these substances were limited to just a few children. While most studies have not found sugar to stimulate hyperactivity, except in rare cases, the experimental design of these studies may not have been ideal for showing an adverse effect of sugar on ADHD, if one exists. Further studies are needed.
Smoking during pregnancy should be avoided, as it appears to increase the risk of giving birth to a child who develops ADHD.
Heavy-metal and Lead exposure have also been linked to ADHD. If other therapies do not seem to work, the possibility of heavy-metal exposure should be explored with a healthcare adviser.
Children with ADHD are found to have lower levels of Magnesium. In a preliminary, controlled trial, children with low magnesium levels and ADHD were given 200 mg of magnesium per day for six months. Compared with other magnesium-deficient ADHD children, those given magnesium supplementations had a significant decrease in hyperactive behavior.
In one study, a group of children with ADHD was given the supplement L-Carnitine for a period of eight weeks. Clinical improvement in 54% of a group of boys with ADHD was found in this study, compared with a 13% response in the placebo group. In this study, 100 mg of L-Carnitine per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day was given, with a maximum of 4 grams per day. No side effects were seen, although one child developed an unpleasant body odor while taking L-Carnitine. Researchers have found that this uncommon side effect of L-Carnitine can be prevented by supplementing with riboflavin. Although no serious side effects were seen in this study, the safety of long-term L-Carnitine supplementation in children has yet to be studied. Don’t start your child on this supplement without consulting a healthcare professional.
Essential Fatty Acids
Children with ADHD are mostly deficient with essential fatty acids. This has been observed in some children with ADHD in comparison with unaffected children. In one study children with ADHD were given evening primrose oil supplements in an attempt to correct the problem. Although some benefit was seen, the results were not pronounced. In another study, children with ADHD were given a fatty-acid supplement daily consisting of 186 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 480 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), 96 mg of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), 864 mg of linoleic acid, and 42 mg of arachidonic acid. Compared with the placebo, these supplements showed significant improvements in both cognitive function and behavioral problems. No side effects were reported.
Vitamin B, especially vitamin B6, has been used for treating ADHD for some time now. According to a study, some children with ADHD are deficient in vitamin. In another study, children who had low blood levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin were given vitamin B6 in a dose of 15–30 mg per 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of body weight per day. It was found to be more effective than methylphenidate. Vitamin B6 was only beneficial when given in large doses. The amount of vitamin B6 found to be effective was in very high dosage. High Dosage of B6 could potentially cause nerve damage, although none occurred in this study. Always consult a professional nutrition expert before taking high amounts of vitamin B6. The efficacy of other B vitamins has shown mixed results in treating ADHD symptoms.