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Old 03-31-11, 02:42 PM
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Re: ADHD Symptoms and Dietary Connections

Originally Posted by Effie View Post
I am soo glad that you posted this. I just got into a tiff with someone about an article they posted on facebook. It was a very unprofessional article on some website that basically said kids have ADHD because of the chemicals in food. I tried to explain to them that the chemicals may exaggerate the symptoms of ADHD but do not cause it. And that ADHD is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is a real condition and those that have it cannot just "get rid" of it by not eating processed food. So now I am going to direct them to your post. Thanks
There's a lot of misinformation floating around this week because the FDA is assessing whether they should ban food coloring today. Their decision to look at it is based off a study that showed hyperactivity increases, which is really due to allergic reactions, but some think it means it gives people ADHD and they can just be better if they stop eating food that has food coloring. I'm not sure if that was the topic specifically that you are mentioning, but that is a recent hot topic.

Here are some studies on zinc and ADHD.

This is on zinc and iron supplements lowering hyperactivity, anxiety and conduct problems:

OBJECTIVE: It has been suggested that both low iron and zinc levels might be associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. However, the association of zinc and iron levels with ADHD symptoms has not been investigated at the same time in a single sample.

METHOD: 118 subjects with ADHD (age = 7-14 years, mean = 9.8, median = 10) were included in the study. The relationship between age, gender, ferritin, zinc, hemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume and reticulosite distribution width and behavioral symptoms of children and adolescents with ADHD were investigated with multiple linear regression analysis.

RESULTS: Results showed that subjects with lower zinc level had higher Conners Parent Rating Scale (CPRS) Total, Conduct Problems and Anxiety scores, indicating more severe problems. CPRS Hyperactivity score was associated both with zinc and ferritin levels. Conners Teacher Rating Scale (CTRS) scores were not significantly associated with zinc or ferritin levels.

CONCLUSIONS: Results indicated that both low zinc and ferritin levels were associated with higher hyperactivity symptoms. Zinc level was also associated with anxiety and conduct problems. Since both zinc and iron are associated with dopamine metabolism, it can be speculated that low zinc and iron levels might be associated with more significant impairment in dopaminergic transmission in subjects with ADHD.
In this study, zinc did not reduce ADHD symptoms as they expected, but made amphetamines more efficient:

OBJECTIVE: To explore effects of zinc supplementation in American children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mideastern trials reported significant benefit from 13-40 mg elemental zinc as the sulfate.

METHOD: We randomly assigned 52 children aged 6-14 with DSM-IV ADHD to zinc supplementation (15 mg every morning [qAM] or two times per day [b.i.d.] as glycinate, n = 28) or matched placebo (n = 24) for 13 weeks: 8 weeks monotherapy and then 5 weeks with added d-amphetamine (AMPH). AMPH dose was weight-standardized for 2 weeks and then clinically optimized by week 13. Zinc glycinate was chosen as having less gastrointestinal discomfort than sulfate. Hypotheses were that zinc would improve inattention more than placebo by effect size of d > 0.25 at 8 weeks; zinc+AMPH would improve ADHD symptoms more than placebo+AMPH by d > 0.25, and optimal dose of AMPH with zinc would be 20% lower than with placebo. An interim analysis requested by the National Institute of Mental Health resulted in an increased dosage, so that 20 received 15 mg/day qAM and 8 received 30 mg/day (15 mg b.i.d.)

RESULTS: Only the third hypothesis was upheld: Optimal mg/kg AMPH dose with b.i.d. zinc was 37% lower than with placebo. Other clinical outcomes were equivocal, sometimes favoring zinc, sometimes placebo, but objective neuropsychological measures mostly favored b.i.d. zinc (d = 0.36-0.7). Safety tests and adverse events were not different between groups. Copper and iron blood indices were not impaired by 8 weeks of 30 mg/day zinc.

CONCLUSION: Doses up to 30 mg/day of zinc were safe for at least 8 weeks, but clinical effect was equivocal except for 37% reduction in amphetamine optimal dose with 30 mg/day zinc (not with 15 mg). Possible reasons for difference from mideastern reports include endemic diets, population genetics, relative rate of zinc deficiency, difference in background nutrition, insufficient dosage or absorption, or wrong anion (sulfate may be necessary for reported benefit). Dose may be especially important: All visually impressive advantages over placebo appeared only with 15 mg b.i.d. rather than once a day. Future research should use larger doses than 15 mg/day, provide a basic recommended daily allowance/intake multivitamin/mineral supplement for all to standardize background nutrition, select participants for low zinc, and consider the issue of anion interaction.
This one indicates a correlation between zinc deficiency and improvement and zinc in combination with other treatment, but not on it's own:

Relations between zinc concentrations and behavior in animals; the relation between zinc deficiency, depression, and ADHD in patient and community samples; and the potential biological mechanisms for these relations were explored. The data support a relation between low concentrations of zinc and mental health problems, especially in at-risk populations. Evidence for the potential use of zinc in treating mental health problems comes mainly from patient populations and is strongest when zinc is given in combination with pharmacologic treatment. Less conclusive evidence exists for the effectiveness of zinc alone or in general community samples.
Here's a link to the study I posted above on fish oil, magnesium and zinc, which has graphs showing 30-50% reductions in inattention, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, emotional instability, and sleep issues. Having these results with a sample size of 810 children is quite convincing.
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