Nutritional and dietary influences on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Natalie Sinn Nutrition Reviews® Vol. 66(10):558–568 565
CONCLUSION Research to date indicates that nutrition and diet may have a role in the hyperactivity and concentration/ attention problems associated withADHD in children. In children with suboptimal levels of iron, zinc, and magnesium, there is some support for improvements being achieved with supplementation of these nutrients. There are also indications that supplementation with Pycnogenol might assist with symptoms. However, more wellcontrolled clinical trials are required.
The strongest support so far is for omega-3 PUFA and behavioral reactions to food colorings. Research still needs to determine optimal levels of these nutrients for this group of children andmarkers of food sensitivity (currently requiring timeintensive dietary challenges) in order to inform clinical practice in the identification of potential deficiencies and/or behavioral food reactions. Suggestions that these children often react to inhaled environmental substances such as petrol fumes, perfumes, fly sprays, and felt pens, also require further investigation.86 There are clearly multiple influences on ADHD, including genetic and environmental (parental, social) factors.Whether these constitute different groups of children or whether there is a common underlying component to some or all of these remains to be determined.
A recent study found lower omega-3 PUFA levels in 35 young adults with ADHD than in 112 controls, but levels of iron, zinc, magnesium, or vitamin B6 were not reduced.91 However, since zinc is required for the metabolism of other nutrients, zinc deficiencies may contribute to suboptimal levels of nutrients such as omega-3 PUFA. In addition, a genetic problem with enzyme production or absorption of nutrients may predispose children to nutrient deficiencies and/or excessive oxidation, thus contributing concurrently to food sensitivities.
Adverse genetic, environmental, and nutritional conditions may exacerbate psychosocial factors (e.g., it is easier to parent a child with an easygoing, undemanding personality). In order to provide optimal treatment for these children, all of these possibilities need to be explored in multidisciplinary, multimodal, research models that take all potential factors into consideration.