Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) need more than just medication to alleviate symptoms. It’s important to realize medication is not the cure all and can have side effects. Providing proper nutrition and supplementation is crucial. In addition, nutrition and environmental conditions play a role in preventing ADHD.
ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral disorder diagnosed in children, and its prevalence is growing. Between 2003 and 2007, there was a 22 percent increase in ADHD occurrence in the United States. Today, about 9.5 percent of school age children have ADHD.1
ADHD is characterized by restlessness, difficulty focusing, poor impulse control, distractibility, and in some cases overactivity. These symptoms have significant negative consequences on the child’s academic performance, social skills, and relationships with family members, teachers, and peers. In addition, ADHD is often accompanied by learning disorders, discipline problems, anxiety, and/or depression.2
ADHD is a complex disorder of the brain that is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.3-4 Smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy, micronutrient deficiencies, excessive television watching early in life, and inadequate omega-3 fatty acid intake are a few of the environmental factors that increase risk3,5
Poor nutrition is a significant concern as dietary factors have been linked to ADHD risk in scientific studies. They include:
The primary mode of treatment for ADHD is a combination of stimulant drugs and behavioral treatment. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 2.7 million children in the U.S. are currently taking medication for ADHD.1
Of concern are the side effects of these drugs; the two most common are insomnia and loss of appetite. There is also the potential for abuse, since stimulants such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) and amphetamines have actions on the brain similar to cocaine.6
In addition, evidence has recently emerged that these stimulants may adversely affect the cardiovascular system. Long-term stimulant use increases heart rate, and elevated heart rate increases the risk of cardiac death.9,16-17
Effective strategies to help prevent children from developing ADHD include:
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, a family commitment to dietary changes is crucial. My nutritional approach to ADHD used in conjunction with appropriate behavioral treatment has helped many families. Although it may take up to six months, significant improvements are almost always observed, and stimulant medications are rarely necessary
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
For over 30 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
*There is no guarantee of specific results. Results can vary. All material provided on the DrFuhrman.com website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.