printer-friendly version   Printer-Friendly Version  

ADHD Natural Remedies: Zinc

Several studies have shown that children with ADHD are deficient in important nutrients, and that adding supplements can help reduce symptoms of the disorder. One of the most common deficiencies is zinc. Epidemiological studies have shown that 75% of Americans are deficient in this essential mineral that helps in the following neurological and bodily functions:

Protection against the oxidation of omega-3 essential fatty acids

An increased intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids is one of the most important natural remedies for ADHD.  However, taking omega-3 supplements will not correct an essential fatty acid deficiency by itself.  Essential fatty acids are very prone to oxidation, which means the fragile bonds that hold the fats together break down and decompose before the fatty acids can even enter the bloodstream.  Because of this, antioxidants have to be taken with essential fatty acid supplements to preserve their effects.  Researchers discovered that zinc helps retard the oxidation process of omega-3 fatty acids, making it a very useful supplement to go with increased omega-3 intake.

Vitamin B6 metabolism

Zinc is an important component to help the conversion of vitamin B6 from its inactive form to its active form, called pyridoxal-5-phosphate or P5P.

Production of melatonin and thyroid function regulation

Melatonin is a hormone responsible for regulating dopamine, an important neurotransmitter that is often deficient in people with ADHD.  Not only is zinc needed in the production of melatonin; it also regulates the hormone when high melatonin levels lead to thyroid dysfunction and other side effects.  Thus, the role of zinc in this regard is twofold – melatonin production and the prevention of the negative effects of excess melatonin.

Serotonin production

Anxiety and depression are two conditions that are often found in people suffering from ADHD, and a lack of serotonin is partially to blame.  Serotonin is created by the body out of an amino acid called tryptophan. However, in order for tryptophan to be synthesized into serotonin, sufficient amounts of Vitamin B6 are required.  As previously discussed, zinc is needed to convert inactive B6 into its active form, and thus it plays an indirect role in synthesizing serotonin.  Zinc is an important mineral supplement for those with ADHD and other co-morbid disorders like depression.

Brain wave processes

One of the problems experienced by children with ADHD is slow information processing, which is believed to be related to a brain wave pattern called N2.  Researchers suggest that problems in N2 information processing may be related to zinc deficiencies, which may explain why children with ADHD are easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli.  N2 brain patterns are also hypothesized to be affected by serotonin levels, the production of which is related to the amount of zinc in the body. 

Lowered immunity and inflammation

Zinc plays an important role in proper immunity and controlling inflammation. Zinc deficiency leads to lowered immunity and uncontrolled inflammation. Very often, children with ADHD also suffer from recurrent infections, eczema, and allergies.

Metal detoxification

Zinc helps metal detoxification by helping an enzyme called metallothionein. Problems with this enzyme have been found in children suffering from ADHD and autism.

Several studies have shown that supplementing with zinc helps reduce symptoms of ADHD as well as enhancing the effects of ADHD medications such as Ritalin.

Those studies strongly suggest that zinc deficiency is associated with distractibility, inattention, and other bodily imbalances.  Give your child zinc-rich foods.  High-protein foods like the dark meat of chicken, beef, lamb, and pork are excellent sources of zinc. Other zinc-rich foods include oysters, shellfish, legumes, and nuts

For supplement, use zinc sulfate. Dosage should be between 10 and 20 mg per day; some studies have used up to 55 mg.

If you need help with nutrition and supplement for your ADHD child, find a holistic health care practitioner or invest in our UnRitalin Solution.