Support Concentration and Focus for ADHD

By on September 2, 2017

Back to school can be a difficult transition for kids. It requires them to sit at a desk for a
long period of time and focus on school work. For some kids this is a struggle.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released a report in November of 2013, showing up to 11 percent of children aged 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives. In Canada, 5% of children have been diagnosed with ADHD, with boys 3 times more likely than girls. 

As a naturopath, I will say the work you do now to support your child will benefit them for a lifetime. Here are some tips on supporting your child’s concentration and focus for creating a positive experience in school. 

Up Your Healthy Fats
One of the best things you can give your child for focus and concentration is a good quality fish oil supplement. Studies have shown that children with ADHD have lower tissue levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), the two components in omega-3 oils. Omega-3 (EPA+DHA) supplementation has been studied extensively and is a well known treatment option utilized by both naturopaths and mainstream physicians. 

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are important for brain development, mental focus and mood regulation. As a population we are deficit in this oil, so it is important to make a conscious effort to include more of it in your child’s diet. 

Gamma-linolenic acid derived from evening primrose oil, was shown in a 2010 study to aid in symptoms relief when combined with omega-3 fatty acids containing EPA + DHA. The three compunds in combination helped children with reading, writing, aggression, and anxious behaviour.  

Food sources rich in omega-3’s are: fish (remember SMASH-sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring), walnuts, flax/hemp seed oil, or hemp hearts. If your child is not keen on this list, sometimes a good old spoonful of the liquid down the hatch is the way to go. 

Boost Up Magnesium
Magnesium is a mineral that calms the nervous system and promotes a restful sleep. Children with ADHD are often deficient in magnesium, which can be a contributing factor to their restlessness. Try adding magnesium rich food to your child’s diet such as; dark green veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts/seeds, bananas, watermelon, figs, potatoes and green beans. You can also consider a magnesium powdered supplement. They are easy to take and ensure your child is not deficient.   

Address Zinc Deficiency
Zinc has also been shown to improve information processing, organization and decision-making in ADHD kids. Zinc is involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters especially dopamine, which is the most important neurotransmitter in ADHD. 

Zinc supplements are commonly recommended to be taken with standard ADHD drug, to improve the drug’s effect on dopamine levels in the brain. Like magnesium, children deficient in zinc can have symptoms resembling hyperactivity symptoms of ADHD. It is important to rule out a zinc deficiency. 

Discover Bacopa
This herb works two fold. It can invigorate mental processes while reducing the effects of stress and nervous anxiety, which is a perfect combination for an ADHD sufferer’s attention difficulties. The active ingredient is bacosides, these have been shown to support focus by improving the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain, sharpening cognitive function.  It also creates a sense of calm and peace, which is very helpful for the hyperactive and impulsive tendencies of those with ADHD. 

Ditch the Sugar
Overeating, poor memory formation, learning disorders and depression, have all been linked to the over-consumption of sugar. Research shows a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything. So do yourself and kids a favour, and ditch the added sugar. 

Get Outside! 
According to a study published in Psychological Science, interacting with nature gives your brain a break from everyday stimulation, which has a restorative effect on your attention levels. The recommendation is for children to have 1 hour of outdoor time daily. The grim reality is children are only spending 7% of this time outdoors. So, make getting outside a priority every day. 

Start the Day at Home or School with Mindfulness
Research shows it improves attention, reduces stress, regulates emotions and improves the capacity for compassion and empathy. All of these seem integral to me for both classroom learning and co-operative play. Start the day at home with it or talk to your teachers and principals about implementing a mindfulness program at the school. A simple five minutes can get children ready for an exciting day of learning ahead. 

References:
1) http://maximind.ca/youre-not-alone-important-statistics-on-adhd#.WVCJFYWcE2w

2) http://doctormurray.com/fish-oil-rich-in-dha-improves-attention-deficit-disorder/

3) http://www.alive.com/family/adhd-and-essential-fatty-acids/

4) http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/canadian-children-in-dire-need-of-outdoor-play-report-1.2413266

5) http://mindfullyadd.com/adhd-mindfulness-craze/ 

 

 

 

About Charleen Wyman

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