3 Common Pitfalls of Supplementation for ADHD

by | Jul 8, 2022 | ADHD Symptoms, Natural Remedies

When trying to find a supplement to support a child with ADHD, the sheer number of options out there can be overwhelming! 

I know that’s how I felt when I first started on this journey with my son. 

It was STAGGERING! 

I felt like I was constantly researching THIS supplement or THAT supplement and trying to figure out which one would actually work. 

And then, of course, I’d try one and it would be a complete failure! 

Sometimes it even made his ADHD symptoms worse. 

It was SO frustrating.

In this post, I want to take some of that overwhelm away by sharing my top 4 supplements for kids with ADHD. 

These are supplements that have not only worked for my son with ADHD, but have also worked for many of the families that I work with.  

Supplements play a very important role in nutrition and healing. 

BUT I do want to share a few pitfalls of supplementation before I share my favorites. 

 

Pitfall #1 : Blind Supplementation

When I first started using supplements to support my son with ADHD, I did what many families do: used what I call “blind supplementation.” Blind supplementation is like the game “Pin the Tail On the Donkey.” 

We spin in circles, desperately trying to figure out what’s going to hit the target. As we spin, we listen to people all around us, telling us what we should do – which way we should go. Eventually, we take a stab and hope it lands. 

Blind supplementation is what I did for years, and it’s what many families still do. 

Blind supplementation is what happens when we hear that a supplement worked for X so we try it and hope it’ll work for us too.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with blind supplementation, as long as it is being done safely, using only the prescribed amounts. 

For some families, blind supplementation works. They take a stab and it lands on the bullseye. They are the lucky ones. These are probably the families that are speaking up in Facebook groups and other support groups with their “suggestions” on what to try.

They saw success and can’t help but share it with others, assuming other people will see the same results they do. 

Unfortunately, blind supplementation doesn’t work for many families. Many of us – myself included – end up trying way too many supplements with way too few positive results. 

I can hear the question forming in the minds of many of you reading this: “If blind supplementation doesn’t work, then what does? Does that mean the only time someone should try supplementation is after lab testing?” 

In an ideal world, if money were no object, then I would suggest everyone do functional lab testing before trying any supplements. Lab testing removes the guesswork from the process. 

Lab testing is ideal. But that’s not the world we live in. Functional lab testing can be expensive and isn’t often covered by insurance, so it’s not always an option. In that case, trial and error is the way to go.

 

Pitfall #2 : The Miracle Pill 

Supplements can be very effective and healing, but supplements can never be the be-all-and-end-all for ADHD symptoms. 

I have spoken to many caregivers who want a simple pill to “fix” their child’s ADHD symptoms. They want something to make all of the challenges go away. I’ve been there too. 

The hard reality, though, is that if a child is still consuming large amounts of inflammatory, processed foods, he or she won’t likely see a noticeable improvement using ANY supplement. 

That’s because the body is still being pounded by inflammation, and inflammation affects the entire body. Children cannot function at their best if the diet is not cleaned up. 

For that reason, food should always come first. 

For about half of the families I work with, once the diet is changed, supplementation is not necessary at all. Diet alone can provide them the relief they need. 

For other families, supplementation is necessary. Even for these families, though, if they ONLY supplement and don’t change the diet, it won’t work. Food MUST come first. It is a vital – 100% essential – part of natural ADHD symptom reduction. 

You can’t supplement your way out of a poor diet. 

 

Pitfall #3 : One Size Fits All

A third pitfall with supplementation is that many people assume if a supplement works for one child with ADHD, it will work for their child as well. I definitely fell into this trap with my son. I mistakenly assumed that because one particular supplement worked for other families that it was guaranteed to work for ours. When it didn’t, I was crushed. 

Every child is a bio-individual. 

One supplement that works well for one child might not have much of an effect on another child, or it might even have a negative effect. That’s because each child is his or her own individual and needs different things, based on diet and genetic makeup. 

For supplementation to be most effective, it needs to be tailored to each individual child. 

That being said, the 4 supplements that I’m going to share today  are all really great base supplements that just about everyone can benefit from. 

 

The Best Supplements for Children with ADHD: 

 

#1 – A good quality fish oil for Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are meant to be in a one-to-one ratio in the body. Unfortunately, due to the Western diet, the amount of Omega 6 in our bodies has reached unprecedented proportions and results in inflammation, blood pressure, and heart disorders. In contrast, Omega-3, which comes from a Mediterranean diet, is extremely low in many Americans.*

The deficiency of Omega-3 and Omega-6 can exacerbate ADHD symptoms in children, and research suggests that incorporating foods that naturally contain fatty acids such as fish and nuts can support. However, since many children have insufficient consumption of such food, supplements can also be effective.

 

#2 – A good quality probiotic 

There is a close link between the gut and the brain. The brain has many areas that are involved in gut function, but one of the main areas is the frontal lobe, and it talks to the gut via nerve branches and two way chemical messengers.

The frontal lobe is involved in things like attention, focus, executive function, planning, organizing, and problem solving, all of which are common symptoms of many of our children with ADHD.

So ensuring the gut is functioning well will ensure our children’s frontal lobe is functioning well. 

*Research shows that taking probiotics that contain a certain type of gut bacteria can reduce inflammation*, help detoxification, reduce anxiety, improve mood, and also protect the body against the damaging mental and physical effects of stress.

One thing to keep in mind is that our bodies are not meant to take probiotics forever. Once the gut is in a good place, probiotics should not be necessary long term, except for when fighting off a sickness, when traveling, or when on medication.

 

 #3 –  Magnesium

Magnesium is used in over three hundred biochemical processes in the body, and it is an important element that supports muscles, helps with relaxation, aids restful sleep, keeps hormonal balance, keeps the heartbeat steady, regulates blood glucose levels, and aids in the production of energy. 

Stress depletes magnesium levels, so if a child is already low in magnesium and experiences stress, that anxiety can make their magnesium levels even lower. 

It’s a vicious cycle, but one that can be supported through eating magnesium-rich foods like spinach, asparagus, cabbage, avocado, bananas, seeds, nuts, peas, broccoli, dark chocolate, or oily fish.

It can also be supported through supplementation.

Many caregivers find that magnesium makes a surprising difference to their kids’ anxiety or depression, aids in sleep, and also reduces hyperactivity. 

Research suggests that children with ADHD often have low magnesium levels, and using supplements can have a calming effect on behavior* and reduce insomnia, agitation, and muscle cramps. 

With magnesium, it’s important to remember that it can take a couple of weeks to up to a month to build up in the body, so don’t expect immediate results. 

 

#4 – Vitamin D 

Many Americans do not get sufficient amounts of sunlight and are therefore deficient in vitamin D. 

A vitamin D supplement can work wonders to improve the symptoms of ADHD and anxiety, especially when it is taken with a supplement of Omega-3 fatty acids. 

That’s because these macronutrients regulate serotonin production (our feel-good hormone) which is linked to social behavior, appetite, sleep, digestion, and memory. Vitamin D will also generally support the reduction of inflammation in the body, which is the key to healing.

One of the best natural ways to get more Vitamin D is to get outside in the sunlight! But as this is not always possible, a Vitamin D supplement can be very beneficial as well. 

Each of these 4 supplements can be beneficial for just about everyone, but they are my top 4 supplements for kids with ADHD because of how effective they often are at supporting children with ADHD. 

 

Unfortunately, not all supplement brands are created equal. 

One of the moms in my program recently shared a supplement horror story. 

She was running low on a supplement that her child with ADHD uses daily. She wanted to get a refill here as quickly as possible so she ordered from a different supplier than what she typically buys from. 

When the bottle arrived, the pills were a totally different color than the ones she normally receives. 

 

She contacted the company and sure enough, the pills she received were fake. 

Who knows what might have been in them?! 

Scary, right?

 

So how do you know you are getting safe, pure supplements? 

Order from a place you trust!

We have recently opened up an online store, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the fact that our supplements come directly from the manufacturer. 

I KNOW they are safe, contain what they say they contain, and don’t have any additives or fillers. 

Here are just a few things that set our ADHD Thrive line of supplements apart from others: 

 

?Superior quality ingredients with proven efficacy that is backed by science

We do our best to not just meet but EXCEED industry standards!

 

?Strict quality control for manufacturing, packaging, and storing 

Not just anyone can manufacture, package, or store our products! We have strict qualification requirements. 

 

?Professional-grade supplements formulated and manufactured according to our “Science First” approach 

Rather than focusing on convenience or cutting costs, we focus on quality. We don’t cut corners anywhere!  

 

?No fillers, additives, or “extras” 

What you see on that ingredient label is what you get! 

Now, I know that was a lot of information, so I wanted to offer one more thing. If you have any questions, I would be happy to chat about this more. 

I’m always happy to help! 

Remember, there is always a chance that one particular child might not necessarily need one or more of these supplements, based on his or her individual body and what he or she is already getting from diet so always consult your health practitioner before starting any new supplement.

 

For additional information about these supplements, check out these articles: 

*Walle, Gavin Van De. “Polyunsaturated Fat: Definition, Foods, Benefits and Risks.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 31 Oct. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/polyunsaturated-fat#risks. Accessed 23 Nov 2021.  

*Bear, Tracey L K, et al. “Role of the Gut Microbiota in Dietary Interventions for Depression and Anxiety.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 9 Mar. 2020, https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/11/4/890/5801053?login=true. Accessed 04 Feb 2022.  

* Plaza-Díaz, Julio, et al. “Evidence of the Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Probiotics and Synbiotics in Intestinal Chronic Diseases.” Nutrients, MDPI, 28 May 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5490534/. Accessed 04 Feb 2022.  

*Yaghoubfar, Rezvan, et al. “Modulation of Serotonin Signaling/Metabolism by Akkermansia Muciniphila and Its Extracellular Vesicles through the Gut-Brain Axis in Mice.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 17 Dec. 2020, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-79171-8. Accessed 04 Feb 2022. 

*Starobrat-Hermelin, B, and T Kozielec. “The Effects of Magnesium Physiological Supplementation on Hyperactivity in Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Positive Response to Magnesium Oral Loading Test.” Magnesium Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9368236/. Accessed 24 Nov 2021. 

 


 

Want to know more about how we can help YOU get to a place of peace and calm with your child using natural strategies?

Let’s talk! 

Book your free call with one of my expert team members to help you take your next step toward a healthier, happier home. There is absolutely NO RISK. It’s free, and there are no obligations. All we will do is chat about how we can help you get to where you want to go!

Click Here To Book Your Call

Alternatively, for more details about how you can help reduce your child’s ADHD symptoms, sign up for my free online webinar today here.

And as always, I am not a medical doctor and the above post is based on my experience. No information on this site should be relied upon to make a medical diagnosis, treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition. 

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About the Author'

Hi, I’m Dana Kay, and I am a Board Certified Holistic Health and Nutrition Practitioner. My goal is to assist families who have children with ADHD, through nutrition and functional lab testing and to discover HIDDEN stresses and dysfunctions, as well as implementing a holistic and all-natural family approach to health and wellness.

Book your free call with one of my expert team members to help you take your next step toward a healthier, happier home. There is absolutely NO RISK. It’s free, and there are no obligations. All we will do is chat about how we can help you get to where you want to go!