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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brain Food for ADHD

 | By Lori Hamann, M.S.E. - Livestrong
Brain Food for ADHD
Omega-3's are highly supportive of brain function and for quelling symptoms of ADHD. Photo Credit Fish oil vitamins by Stephen VanHorn
ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a mental health condition affecting adults and children. As its name suggests, ADHD is a disorder that compromises mental focus and concentration, impulse control, and activity levels. ADHD may become complicated as one ages, with older people with ADHD experiencing mood swings, low self-esteem, procrastination and anxiety. For those who are opposed to medical intervention, they can choose to manage ADHD symptoms with "brain food"--supplements and dietary enhancements to support brain function.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 is fatty acid that can be found in fish oil, krill oil, flax seed oil and some sources of food. Your body can't create it on it's own, so you must ingest it to maintain proper omega-3 saturation. Omega-3's are essential for overall body processes but are crucial to brain development and the restoration of neurotransmitter levels. Talk to your health care provider about proper dosing for your child, as there is no "set" dose, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Adults should take in no more than 3 g per day of essential fatty acids.


Individuals with ADHD have lower levels of magnesium than those who do not. Low magnesium can lead to irritability, sleep disturbances, hyperactivity and even aggressive behavior, according to Natural News.com. The site also states that "Magnesium is also a key factor in the production of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that provides a feeling of calm and well-being." Magnesium also calms the body, relaxes muscles and aids in digestion. You can choose to supplement with magnesium, or increase the amount of magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Foods like nuts, tofu, green vegetables, kelp and pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is essential to brain function, and can help calm symptoms of ADHD. It's knows as an anti-stress vitamin. It also supports the immune system, wards off depression and supports concentration. Progressive Health.com states, "Vitamin B6 is required for normal brain development and is essential in the synthesis of brain chemicals including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine." You can supplement with B6, or a B complex vitamin--or seek foods that are rich in B vitamins such as tuna, banana or chicken.


5-HTP is short for 5-Hydroxytryptophan. It is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan, which is found in certain foods--like turkey and milk--or can be extracted from the seed of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia. When ingested, 5-HTP it is converted to serotonin, says Nikki Jackson of Neurogistics.com. Proper serotonin levels are supportive of increased focus, concentration, memory and less impulsivity. Balanced ratios of inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters are important for optimum functioning, so talk to a health care practitioner before supplementing with 5-HTP.

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