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I read with fascination the blog by June Rousso Ph.D on the role of nutrition in treating ADD/ADHD as I taught many children on Ritalin when I was a Deputy Head.

“Most treatments have focused upon medications, such as stimulant drugs. Millions of children are treated with medication and while successful for some, in many instances, there are unpleasant side effects.  These can include nervousness, anxiety, palpitations, headache, insomnia, and loss of appetite.

From a nutritional perspective, mineral deficiencies have been found in children with ADHD, including magnesium and zinc.  Foods high in magnesium include bran breakfast cereal, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, and black beans.  Foods high in zinc include beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and lentils.  All of these foods should be part of an ADD/ADHD diet.

Supplementation with magnesium and zinc has yielded positive results in treating ADD/ADHD.  Patrick Holford, in his book, New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, reported one study where supplementation with magnesium and vitamin B6 was ten times more effective than Ritalin. In other research, eighty percent of the children stopped taking Ritalin after supplementing with magnesium for as little as three weeks.  Some studies have found a correlation between magnesium levels and severity of ADHD symptoms.

According to Holford, many children with ADD/ADHD have symptoms associated with essential fatty acid deficiency. These are fats that your body needs to function, but which only can be obtained from food.  Symptoms of deficiencies include excessive thirst, dry skin, eczema, and asthma.  Omega 3 fatty acids can be obtained from oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel.  Walnuts, flaxseeds, and hemp also are high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Ground flaxseeds and hemp can be added to smoothies, which may have greater appeal, especially to children. Omega-3 fatty acid foods should be a regular part of an ADD/ADHD diet.

To read the full article on The Epoch Times click here