Mineral Deficiencies Linked to ADHD in Children
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children is linked to mineral deficiencies, including zinc and iron.
This only makes sense, since minerals are critical for metabolic functions and enzyme reactions that take place within the cells and tissues. This is more pronounced within the nerve cells, where minerals are catalysts for important processes that relate to cognition and attention.
In addition, minerals are critical for our neurotransmitters, which facilitate the electrical pulses that occur between our nerve endings. Neurotransmitters thus relate directly to attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.
A lack or imbalance of minerals within nerve and brain cells have been shown in numerous studies to produce mood disorders of different types.
Research connecting minerals and ADHD
In one study, researchers from Ohio State University and the Nisonger Center found that 30 milligrams of supplemented zinc per day lowers the need for ADHD medication in ADHD children.
The researchers gave 52 ADHD children who were between the ages of 6 years and 14 years old either 15 milligrams of zinc per day, 30 milligrams of zinc glycinate per day or a placebo. The 15 milligrams-per-day children showed little or no difference in symptoms or medication use than the placebo children. However, the 30 milligrams-per-day group of eight children required 37% less medication to achieve the “optimal” dose.
The researchers concluded that the possible reasons for these results include nutritional deficiencies, background nutrition, and absorption issues. The reason for discrepencies among the research include the possibility that the glycinate anion, as opposed to the sulfate form of zinc, may not be absorbed as well.
Other studies have hinted at mineral deficiencies among ADHD children. A study done in 2010 by researchers from the University of Iowa College of Medicine found that ADHD was associated with lower ferritin (iron) blood concentrations.
This study also used 52 ADHD children with an average age of 10 years old. Ferritin (iron) levels were lower with greater levels of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. The researchers concluded that “these findings add to the growing literature implicating iron deficiency in ADHD.”
Researchers from these and other studies caution against aggressive supplementation strategies of particular minerals. While supplementing one mineral or another might alleviate a particular deficiency, supplementing in an isolated mineral can cause an imbalance with other minerals in the body.
Arnold LE, Disilvestro RA, Bozzolo D, Bozzolo H, Crowl L, Fernandez S, Ramadan Y, Thompson S, Mo X, Abdel-Rasoul M, Joseph E. Zinc for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: placebo-controlled double-blind pilot trial alone and combined with amphetamine.J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2011 Feb;21(1):1-19.
Calarge C, Farmer C, DiSilvestro R, Arnold LE. Serum ferritin and amphetamine response in youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2010 Dec;20(6):495-502.