Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dietary Considerations for ADHD and Behavioral Difficulties

There have been many claims for restricted diets to eliminate ADHD. I remember Dr. Lendon Smith on the Phil Donahue 40 years ago (yikes!) who claimed that all ADHD and learning disabilities were the result of food colorings and food allergies. When these claims were put to rigorous studies, very few kids improved significantly. For a very few, it made a huge difference.

Since then, there have been many other dietary claims. Most studies have failed to substantiate these claims. However, there is a study published in Lancet and posted online at That study also references a meta-analysis (a technique of evaluating a number of different studies) that supports that ridding food colorings and food additives improves behavior.

Nonetheless, there are some frequent recommendations. The rationale is that while following these recommendations does not eliminate ADHD, it does help the brain function optimally. These and a few other recommendations were listed in the summer issue of ADDitudes magazine ( Their 10 recommendations are:

1. Lean protein.
2. Balanced meals.
3. Multivitamin/multimineral.
4. B vitamins.
5. Zinc, iron, and magnesium.
6. Omega-3s. Omegabrite is a flavored form that kids are more likely to tolerate. (Some research, but not conclusive)
7. Picamilon. (I did not find supporting research)
8. Ginko and ginseng. (Some research, but not conclusive)
9. Pycnogenol. (Some research, but not conclusive)
10. Rhodiola rosea. (I did not find supporting research)

Many parents are reluctant to for a medication trial. It is universally accepted that a balanced and healthy diet, as opposed to a fast-food diet is a good idea.

While studies fail to show that sugar makes much difference for most, many parents feel that it can make a huge difference for their child. KNOW YOUR CHILD. If sugar (or whatever) negatively affects your child, then monitor closely and act accordingly. Parents can further investigate and decide whether they want to try more restricted diets.

As always, discuss the use of herbs or supplements with your (or your child's) physician.

For more information on ADHD and a variety of treatments, go to ( and


Tracy's Photogaphs said...

What do you think of autism and vaccinations with mercury? What's your opinion?


Mike Miller, PhD said...

Studies do not support this claim, but I don't feel strongly about it.

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