ADHD is an abbreviation for "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:” ADHD is a disorder characterised by lowered attention span and increases activity levels and impulsivity. The disorder is most common in children and symptoms must be present for at least six months to be diagnostic. Children with ADHD have trouble concentrating and learning new information. They also have problems holding still and are impulsive and hyperactive.
ADD, which stands for “Attention Deficit Disorder”, is a similar disorder. The only difference is that hyperactivity is not a symptom. Children with this disorder normally are able to stay attentive while playing video games, watching cartoons, and in other similar activities.
ADHD has many causes. It can be inborn or learned behaviour.
Factors which increase the risk of being born with ADHD:
- Early, meaning foetal, brain damage.
- Premature birth: A child born 4-6 weeks before term has a 70 % increase in risk.
- Low birthweight: A child which only weighs between 1.5 and 2.5 kg. has a 90 % increase in risk.
- Smoking mothers: Almost doubles the risk.
Factors which increase the risk of a child developing ADHD:
- Social reasons: For example parents with a poor relationship.
- Lack of important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids
- Intake of high levels of artificial colourings and preservatives.
- Intolerance (not allergy) of certain foods.
Adults with ADHD
Studies have shown that over half of the adults who had ADHD as children continue to have problems. However, the symptoms change with time. For example, hyperactivity often becomes inner unrest causing impulsiveness and restlessness. Adults with ADHD have trouble finding structure in their lives, planning and organising tasks, being attentive when speaking with others, and acting deliberately. They can have mood swings, be quick-tempered, and can have a low self esteem, which can have many social consequences.
An in depth article is forthcoming.
General advice on disease prevention and a healthy lifestyle can be found in the library article "General Advice - for both the healthy and the sick" in the VitaHealth section under Focus Articles. You can also test your health by taking our "Health Check".
Avoid as many food additives as possible. It is important to be most observant of the so-called azocolourants: E102, E104, E112, E124, and E129. Also avoid the preservative benzoic acid: E210 and sodium benzoate E211.
The child should be examined for food allergy/-intolerance and celiac disease. Though true allergy may not be present and celiac disease is not directly involved in ADHD, it, if present, could counteract the desired treatment results. Consuming sugar, sweets, and food made from white flour should be limited. The same is true for additives. A daily broad-spectrum dietary supplement in the form of a multivitamin-mineral tablet and omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) is a good idea.
Primarily eat organic food.
Pregnant women should avoid tobacco smoke, as this increases the unborn child's risk of developing ADHD or similar behaviour.
Children with ADHD often require little sleep. Children’s sleeping patterns and quality of sleep should be examined. Does your child get enough sleep? Children should get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Does your child snore? Studies indicate a possible connection between snoring in which the oxygen supply to the body can be too low and behavioural changes. The risk of developing hyperactivity or of an already existing hyperactivity being aggravated is about 4 times higher in children who snore on a regular basis.
Adults with ADHD
Many mind exercises for adults with ADHD have been developed. Some have shown good results.
Beneficial vitamins and minerals
- Vitamin B6: Good results have been seen at doses of 0.8 mg/kg body weight
- Magnesium: Good results have been seen with 6 mg /kg body weight
The above should also be a part of a balanced multivitamin – mineral complex containing all recommended vitamins and minerals.
- Bacopa monniera: Children 6 -12 years old: Standard extract (20% bacosid A+B). Dosage: 100 mg 1-2 times daily.
- Pycnogenol: Is believed to help some boys, but not girls, with ADHD. The method of action is unknown.
- Omega 3 fatty acids
Dosage of dietary supplements for children:
1 - 3 years: approx. 1/3 adult dose
3 - 6 years: approx. 1/2 adult dose
6 - 9 years: approx. 2/3 adult dose
9 - 12 years: approx. 3/4 adult dose
>12 years: adult dose