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Can Nutrition Help With ADHD? – InViteⓇ Health Podcast, Episode 532
Hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH
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Amanda Williams, MPH:
[00:00:40] There are many common disorders that you’ve probably heard of, and I certainly get an awful lot of questions in regards to. One of those in particular that it seems that people reach out oftentimes for a holistic approach to and that is attention deficit, so ADD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I want to talk a little bit about how it is that one comes to find out that they have this condition and what you can be doing nutritionally speaking, which can certainly make a big impact. So I’m Amanda Williams, MD, MPH, Scientific Director at InViteⓇ Health and when it comes to ADHD, we know that this is a very common problem. It is estimated that roughly about 9% of children between the ages of four and 17 years old in the United States have the diagnosis of ADHD, which is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. When it comes to adults, that number drops down a little bit, but it’s still quite high. The overall prevalence rate of ADHD in US adults is about 4 to 5%. So that tells you that many people are dealing with this condition.† [00:02:03]
[00:02:04] So there’s a lot of misinformation when it comes to ADHD. It’s always remained in that scope of kind of being controversial, and you get a lot of debate back and forth within the health care community as to, you know, how the treatment should be approached. Is it more of a behavioral? Is it a lifestyle modification? So I want to talk a little bit about what we know on the nutritional side when it comes to integrative approaches to really help to maintain focus and attention and optimize the cognitive abilities of someone who has ADHD or ADD. Now, technically speaking, the main difference in terms of ADD and ADHD is ADD is attention deficit disorder, so it’s the inability to remain focused and pay attention, whereas the hyperactivity component to it… This is when someone’s real fidgety, has a hard time sitting still, you know, maybe is constantly getting up and moving about when they really shouldn’t be. So there is the difference. When we add in the hyperactivity component, we’re getting more of that physiological aspect that people can witness, that you can actually see. If someone is having a hard time with attention, you may not be able to recognize this. And oftentimes this can happen in younger children, in school settings where they’re having a very difficult time organizing their daily, you know, homework and just doing basic activities that their classmates may be having no problem whatsoever with. So there there is some differences when it comes to the attention part. And then when we combine the attention with the hyperactivity part.† [00:03:58]
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[00:04:00] The traditional, conventional approach to ADHD has always been to utilize stimulants, things like Ritalin and Adderall, Vyvanse. The reason why is because the thought is if you can overstimulate a particular region, this will actually depress that activity. So it’s like when they say too much of a good thing is not a good thing. And this is basically what the conventional treatment is. Now, there are many people in the medical field that look at it as more of a behavioral modification, so perhaps doing different behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, for example. In the nutritional world, we look at it in terms of what are things that are actually triggering the body to exacerbate the symptoms that come out with ADD and ADHD. So we know that the Standard American Diet is certainly not helpful to this, when you look at all of the foods that are loaded down with bad carbohydrates high in sugar, the sugary beverages, the bad fats, zero antioxidants, zero good nutrients coming in from your diet will make a big difference when it comes to the way that your brain is functioning every single day.† [00:05:22]
[00:05:23] So this is why when it comes to nutritional interventions, you have to look at the basics. You have to look at how is it that the brain is functioning every day? And we know that there is this wonderful interaction between essential fats and fatty acids. So you have your omega-3 fatty acids, you have your phospholipids, such as phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylcholine. So oftentimes, if I’m working with someone who has ADHD or ADD, these are kind of the two first places that I start with is looking at reestablishing good fats to the brain. And phosphatidylserine is certainly very beneficial because many times when people have ADD, this goes along with driving up additional stress because they recognize that perhaps the behavior that they’re doing is not what they should be doing, but they have a difficult time controlling this. So this drives up a lot of internal stressors for that person. And we know that phosphatidylserine, this phospholipid that’s so important when it comes to our brain health, is also very beneficial when it comes to stress management. So this is why we stay in that, that setting of looking at the healthy good fats.† [00:06:40]
[00:06:41] We also can find that instead of using a conventional stimulant, a Ritalin or an Adderall, that we can look at the things that the brain actually needs to create its energy, things like acetyl-L-carnitine, oftentimes goes by the name of Alcar. But we know that acetyl-L-carnitine has been shown in randomized, double blind trials to have very beneficial effect on hyperactivity in individuals who have ADHD. We can look at the role of B-vitamins, Vitamin B6 in particular, and they found that when they gave children who had ADHD combination of omega-3 fish oils, taking Vitamin B6, magnesium, this led to significant improvements in their hyperactivity, and they had better retention while in school.† [00:07:31]
[00:07:32] Now there’s also really fascinating studies implicating zinc’s role in ADHD, and they have found that when people have a zinc insufficiency, so low levels of zinc, that this can actually exacerbate the issues with focus and attention and hyperactivity. So they have utilized zinc in children who have ADHD, and they found that they had significantly improved in terms of all these different behavioral ratings or markings that they were assessing. So at the end of the day, we know that there are many different things that we can be doing when it comes to addressing ADHD. And we know that there are an awful lot of things that many Americans are just not getting adequate intake of. Zinc happens to be one of those things. We know that the average American is not getting adequate zinc. And if zinc has been directly correlated with issues with attention and hyperactivity and you have low zinc, this could be one of those problems. So you can see how there’s an easy fix to this. In a sense, if we change up our diet, we start to incorporate in high antioxidant foods coming from fruits and vegetables, we throw away those bad carbs, the sugary beverages get those out of your routine and really focus in on the nutrition and then replenish those omega-3 fatty acids that perhaps you haven’t been exposed to in high enough amounts throughout your life, incorporate in your magnesium, your zinc, your Vitamin B6… I usually advise that people use the Methyl-B formulation because I think that having the methylfolate along with that methylcobalamin and the B6 really helps to enhance overall cognitive performance. So that’s why I have as part of like a protocol for ADD, it would be fish oil or krill oil, just so long as we’re getting our omega-3 in, additional phosphatidylserine and then looking at Methyl-B, adding in magnesium and adding in zinc.† [00:09:43]
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[00:09:43] Now we have a really lovely formulation, which is called Cerebral Care, and I find that the Cerebral Care is a very nice way for people who have concerns with maybe you can’t swallow capsules or soft gels, using the Cerebral Care formulation, one scoop of that a day is packed with wonderful nutrients. The phosphatidylserine, it has the acetyl-L-carnitine in that it has inositiol, which helps with cell-to-cell communication within the brain. So we know there’s many reasons as to why diet can drive someone towards that path of a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. There are certainly environmental factors. There’s genetics, you know, there can be a close head injury. There’s many different correlations as to why someone ends up with this type of a problem. But we also recognize that there are many things that we can do proactively to reverse that and be able to continue on in a very focused and calmed matter.† [00:10:47]
[00:10:48] So that is all that I have for you for today. I want to thank you so much for tuning in to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. Remember, you can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or by visiting invitehealth.com/podcast. Do make sure that you subscribe and you leave us a review. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and we will see you next time for another episode of the InViteⓇ Health Podcast.† [00:10:48]