Zinc has been shown to improve ADHD symptoms in kids because it enables neurotransmitters to function optimally. It also is necessary in the metabolism of DHA fat in the brain, and of melatonin, which regulates dopamine.
One study of 400 children with diagnosed ADHD found that taking 150 milligrams per day of zinc sulfate improved impaired social behavior, made subjects less hyperactive and less impulsive as well. Children in the study with more body fat had more dramatic improvements in socialization and hyperactivity related issues.
Magnesium enables brain electrical activity, and supplementing with it has proven to increase cognition. Magnesium has a calming effect on the central nervous system as well, making it a top nutrient for children suffering from hyperactivity, or even just lacking in focus.
Two studies of children with ADHD found that low magnesium may be a cause. Giving the kids in the study a magnesium supplement increased attention span. This is most likely due to this mineral improving brain activity, and having a calming effect. Just 200 mg daily will do the trick.
Vitamin-D enables the function of every single cell in the body, and it plays a role in attention and brain function. Inadequate vitamin-D in pregnancy is linked to fetal brain development problems, autism, and schizophrenia. A Swedish study of 117 psychiatric patients, a small portion of which had diagnosed ADHD, found that only 14.5 percent of the patients had recommended vitamin-D levels and all the ADHD patients were deficient.
Vitamin-D is made in the body in response to full body sun exposure, so if your child is not in the sun daily, or wears sunscreen, test their vitaminD levels when they go for a physical. A level of 40 ng/ml is considered ideal. Whether a child or not, most of us are deficient in vitamin-D.
Inositol is a carbohydrate or sugar, but it’s not sugar in the sense of cane sugar found in candy. Inositol can offset poor concentration and calm the brain, meaning it decreases hyperactivity and can quiet obsessive thoughts.
Brain scans have shown that people with ADHD, especially those of the hyperactive type, have decreased inositol levels in the brain. This results in lower brain energetic metabolism, meaning the low inositol level stops the brain from getting the nutrients it needs. This would be like the body not getting the glucose it needs for energy to keep training. This means the neurotransmitters can’t work properly, causing a disruption in the function of the frontal brain cortex, leading to hyperactivity and obsessive thoughts. In practice, a dose of two to 10 grams of inositol in half a cup of water 45 minutes before bed can help calm children to go to sleep.
A note about sugar—studies into the link between sugar intake and hyperactivity don’t pan out, but that’s probably because the problem with sugar is that it leads to a large surge in blood sugar going to the brain, which is quickly followed by a drop in blood sugar, producing impaired electrical activity in the cerebral cortex. So, it’s not the amount of sugar in the diet that is necessarily a problem, but the effect in the body that leads to poor behavior (a small distinction, but important). Ultimately, best cognition and behavior will come from limiting carbs and chemicals that compromise children’s learning and behavior.