ADHD and Diet

Health and Safety

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that, according to the Mayo Clinic, affects millions of children and can continue into adulthood. Children with ADHD demonstrate a number of different symptoms, including difficulty in paying attention, impulsive behavior and frequent hyperactivity. Although the cause of ADHD is not entirely clear, scientists believe that diet can play an important role in the development of ADHD in children. The following tips may help parents reduce the symptoms of children with ADHD by modifying their diet.

Consider the Feingold diet. The Feingold diet is a relatively well-known eating program. Some parents have reported significant success by placing their children on this particular diet, although, according to University of Maryland Medical Center, it can be difficult to impose. This is because of the number of restrictions placed upon the child’s diet. The Feingold diet eliminates artificial flavorings, aspartame (an artificial sweetener) and any artificial preservatives.

Cut out artificial food additives. Artificial food additives are commonly cited as a cause of ADHD in children, given the large number of sugary treats containing additives that they consume. There is no clear evidence that food additives can cause ADHD in children but, according to the Mayo Clinic, some studies do demonstrate a link between food colorings and additives and hyperactivity in children. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration now requires that a coloring called tartrazine (or FD&C Yellow No.5) is clearly highlighted on food labeling, due to the link with hyperactivity.

Increase zinc content. Zinc plays an important role in the metabolism of chemicals in the brain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a deficiency of zinc in children’s diets has been linked to ADHD. Boost the intake of zinc-rich foods in your child’s diet, by adding pork, fortified breakfast cereals and yogurt. Be careful not to exceed the recommended dose, however, as excess zinc may cause side effects over the longer term.

Boost the intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. A number of foods are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for normal brain function and could have benefits for your child if he or she is diagnosed with ADHD. Fish is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly salmon and sardines. Flax seeds and walnuts are also a great source of these brain-boosting chemicals, according to the The World’s Healthiest Foods website.


This article was originally published as ADHD and Diet on

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