Have you ever wondered if there were natural supplements or herbs that might benefit your child with ADHD?
If so, keep reading as this comprehensive guide will explore the following:
- ✔️ key benefits of incorporating natural supplements into your child’s ADHD management plan
- ✔️ the best supplements to support children with ADHD
- ✔️ ingredients to avoid in supplementation
- ✔️ how to make informed choices for your child’s specific needs
Parenting a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) comes with unique challenges, from managing emotional dysregulation to coping with inattention and hyperactivity.
While conventional approaches like medication are available and an option that many parents utilize, an increasing number of parents are seeking natural alternatives to support their children’s well-being.
Natural supplements have gained attention because of their potential to reduce ADHD symptoms without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
ADHD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder. It often shows its first signs during childhood.
It is characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, distractibility, poor working memory, and impulsivity that can significantly impact daily functioning and quality of life.
Individuals with ADHD may have difficulty staying focused, paying attention to details, organizing tasks, and maintaining sustained mental effort. They may also exhibit excessive physical activity, restlessness, and fidgeting.
While its exact cause remains uncertain, research suggests a combination of factors contribute to its development.
It’s important to note that ADHD is a complex disorder with multifactorial causes, and each individual’s experience with ADHD may be unique.
Ongoing research aims to further explore the interplay between genetic, neurological, and environmental factors to gain a better understanding of the underlying causes of ADHD.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that underlying stressors can certainly exacerbate ADHD symptoms, even if they are not the direct cause of the disorder.
That means that about 97% of our kids who have ADHD or a similar condition were not born with it. Instead, something in their lifestyles or environments is creating it.
Underlying stressors can lead to ADHD-like symptoms, even in individuals who do not have the condition. Additionally, for those who do have ADHD, underlying stressors can make the symptoms worse.
Therefore, recognizing and addressing underlying stressors is crucial in managing ADHD effectively. One way to do this is through supplementation.
Traditional treatments usually involve stimulant medications, but these can have undesirable side effects.
For instance, in my own son, the side effects of the cocktail of medications he was on were actually worse than his original ADHD symptoms.
For us, medication did not make him better. In fact, it made him worse.
That was when we gave natural strategies a try, and one of those natural strategies was supplementation.
Why are Supplements Important?
Natural supplements offer an alternative approach by addressing underlying nutritional imbalances and supporting brain health.
The health of the brain is a critical piece of the ADHD puzzle. What some people fail to realize, though, is that a healthy brain is only possible if the gut is healthy too.
If our guts aren’t functioning well, our brains won’t be able to function well either.
90-95% of the body’s serotonin and 50% of the body’s dopamine is produced in the gut. These neurotransmitters are the ones that help us manage emotions, balance mood, and help our cognitive function.
Emotional dysregulation is a common symptom of ADHD, but many caregivers don’t realize that this emotional dysregulation actually starts in the gut, where serotonin and dopamine are made.
The problem, then, is not the emotions themselves, but the fact that the correct amounts of these vital neurotransmitters are not being made in the first place.
By working to improve gut health, many caregivers of children with ADHD find that the emotional dysregulation problems solve themselves.
The gut and the brain function somewhat like a highway, constantly sending messages back and forth.
Supplementation can improve both the health of the gut and the health of the brain.
The Benefits of Natural Supplements for ADHD
While medications and behavioral interventions are typically the go-to treatments for ADHD, some natural supplements have shown promise in reducing ADHD symptoms, and many parents are looking for a more natural route to take.
Supplements can provide essential nutrients that might be lacking in a child’s diet and contribute to overall mental well-being. These supplements can enhance concentration, reduce impulsivity, and help manage ADHD symptoms better overall. They can also help improve gut health, which, as mentioned, can in turn improve brain health.
How Natural Supplements Can Help Reduce ADHD Symptoms
Natural supplements can provide additional support alongside traditional ADHD treatments by helping manage specific symptoms. For instance, omega-3 fatty acids can boost focus, while magnesium can mitigate restlessness.
Additionally, supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and magnesium have been linked to enhanced attention and reduced hyperactivity. They work by nourishing the brain, promoting neurotransmitter balance, and reducing inflammation that might contribute to ADHD symptoms.
However, please keep in mind that though these supplements can aid in managing symptoms, they are not a cure for ADHD.
You can’t supplement your way out of a bad diet, so it’s important that you address the diet as well. This post is a good place to start.
The use of natural supplements for ADHD focuses on improving brain health and cognitive function, as well as improving gut health.
The Best Natural ADHD Supplements for Kids
A good quality fish oil for Omega 3 fatty acids can be beneficial for children with ADHD. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that our bodies cannot make on their own. That means the only way we obtain these types of fat is through diet or supplementation.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, nuts like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans, and seeds like chia, flax, and pumpkin seeds. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in many plant-based oils.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids 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 issues, and heart disorders.
In contrast, Omega-3, which comes from a Mediterranean diet, is typically extremely low in Americans.
This deficiency of Omega-3 fatty acids is correlated to ADHD in children. Paul Montgomery, D. Phil., a researcher at the University of Oxford in England, gave school-age children fish oil supplementation for three months to help boost their Omega-3 intake.
At the end of that time, he found that those taking the supplements showed improvement in behavior, as well as in reading and spelling. He concluded in Pediatrics that “a lack of certain polyunsaturated fatty acids may contribute to dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.”
Research suggests this deficiency in Omega-3 fatty acids can be improved by incorporating foods that naturally contain fatty acids such as fish and nuts.
Unfortunately, many children refuse to eat these types of food, preferring to stick with other, more kid-friendly dishes. Because of this, supplementation is often helpful.
The brain has many areas that are involved in gut function, but one of the main areas is the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe talks to the gut via nerve branches and two way chemical messengers. It 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.
When we ensure that our children’s guts are functioning well, we simultaneously ensure their frontal lobes are functioning well too. That’s why probiotics can be so beneficial for children with ADHD.
Probiotics can be found naturally in Kombucha, dark chocolate, and fermented foods, or come in supplement form.
Research shows that taking probiotics that contain a certain type of gut bacteria can reduce inflammation in the body, help detoxify, reduce anxiety, improve mood, and also protect the body against the damaging mental and physical effects of stress.
Zinc plays a role in regulating dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked with ADHD. This mineral supports neurotransmitter production and regulation. Zinc deficiency has been associated with ADHD symptoms.
Supplementation may improve symptoms in children with ADHD who have lower iron levels. Iron plays a role in dopamine regulation, a neurotransmitter important for attention and focus.
Many people only associate low levels of iron with anemia, but iron is critical for optimal brain function. Some researchers also believe that low levels of iron can be an underlying stressor for ADHD.
In one particular study, iron-deficient ADHD children were given iron supplements. These children saw improvement in their ADHD symptoms, as compared to the children who did not receive the supplementation.
Some foods that are naturally high in iron include the following: lean beef and poultry, oysters and shellfish, cashews, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, spinach, broccoli, and dark chocolate. If you believe your child might have low levels of iron, consider whether or not supplementation might be beneficial.
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.
Ingredients to Avoid
When choosing supplements for your child, it’s important to be cautious about certain ingredients.
Avoid products containing the following:
❌ Excessive sugar
❌ Artificial flavors & colors
❌ Highly inflammatory foods (like gluten, dairy, and soy)
The ingredients listed above create inflammation in the body that may worsen ADHD symptoms.
Choosing the Right Supplement for Your Child
When choosing the appropriate supplement for your child with ADHD, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional. Considerations should include the child’s overall health status, the severity of ADHD symptoms, their dietary habits, and potential interactions with other medications that the child may be taking.
Selecting the right supplement for your child requires careful consideration.
Consult a healthcare professional to identify potential deficiencies and determine which nutrients may benefit your child the most.
Choose supplements from reputable brands that adhere to quality and safety standards. Unfortunately, not all supplement brands are created equal.
We have 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!
Whether you order from our store or from another supplier, make sure you are ordering from someone you trust!
Tips for Monitoring Progress with Natural Supplements
Parents should closely monitor their child’s behavior and symptoms when they start taking natural supplements. I also recommend parents always start low (using the lowest possible dosage) and go slow (sticking with the lowest dosage for a few days before titrating up).
Keeping a journal to track any changes over time can be beneficial as well. Note changes in behavior, mood, and attention span, as well as any physical symptoms (like stomach aches, etc).
Regular consultations with healthcare professionals are also essential to evaluate the effectiveness of the supplements and make any necessary modifications.
Natural supplements offer a promising avenue for parents seeking holistic approaches to manage ADHD symptoms in their children.
Supplements that support brain health can complement traditional treatments while minimizing potential side effects.
However, it’s important to remember that you can’t supplement your way out of a poor diet. No supplement can be the be-all-and-end all for ADHD symptom reduction.
In order for supplementation to be effective, it needs to be paired with other natural strategies.
These other natural strategies are exactly what I share in my FREE ADHD Masterclass.