Five Ways to Help Kids with ADHD

Over time, I have found that there are many things you can do for your child with ADHD that will help them stay positive, focused and less impulsive. Here I will list the five most important things I have found that help my son with ADHD.

  1. Diet – A healthy diet with good sources of protein, especially in the morning is essential. Breakfast is the most important meal for all of us, and it’s especially true for those that suffer from ADHD. Low sugar, high protein and complex carbohydrates are key. Of course, no artificial ingredients (colors, flavors or preservatives). Keep MSG out of the diet and make sure they have snacks (protein) between meals. I found that when my son’s blood sugar drops, his concentration and mood decline.
  2. Sleep – Everyone feels better and more alert when they’ve had a good night’s sleep. Kids with ADHD seem to struggle with getting a good night’s sleep. They sometimes have trouble falling asleep or wake in the night. Make sure they get the recommended hours of sleep for their age. A consistent bedtime will help along with no sugary foods after dinner.  The supplements GABA and magnesium are helpful for my son before bed. They are neuro-calming and help with sleep. Epsom salt baths also help calm and relax kids before bed. Some parents find that melatonin helps their child if they suffer from insomnia. My son couldn’t tolerate melatonin. Changing his diet and eliminating allergic foods helped with his night terrors he had from ages 2 – 9.
  3. Exercise – This is one of the most important elements.  A lot of kids with ADHD suffer from anxiety and mood disorders. Exercise will release anxiety, produce those good endorphins and stimulate blood flow to the brain.  They need daily exercise for at least 60 minutes.  My son’s mood is so much better when he has had plenty of exercise, he can focus and attend to homework, and he is healthier for it too.
  4. Motivators – Positive and disciplinarian in nature work best for our family.  Concise, achievable goals like earning rewards or privileges for accomplishments at school and with homework help my son with motivation. He is also held accountable for his negative actions. Clear, age-appropriate rules must be established with consistent monitoring of them.  And finally, always look for the positive and boost their fragile self-esteem with lots of praise, smiles and hugs.
  5. Supplements – Kids with ADHD have biochemical deficits that need additional supplementation to support important brain and nervous system function. I have found the following supplements beneficial in lessening the symptoms of ADHD in my son.
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), particularly Omega-3s (DHA) really helps with focus, concentration and mood. About two-thirds of the brain is composed of fats. Myelin, the protective sheath that covers communicating neurons, is composed of 30% protein and 70% fat. I give my son omega-3 that are high in DHA. DHA reduces oxidative stress, enhances learning and memory, and is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in cell membranes within the brain. Omega-3s are anti-inflamatories and the primary building material for cell membranes, which let nutrients in and toxins out.
  • GABA is also a key supplement for my son. It is neuro-calming and reduces impulsive behaviors. GABA is an amino acid produced in the brain acting as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, a chemical that promotes communication between nerve cells in our central nervous system.
  • Pycnogenol is also beneficial for kids with ADHD. It’s a powerful antioxidant, a natural anti-inflammatory, and helps to dilate blood vessels which increases blood flow to the brain. It’s one of only a few antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Studies have indicated that it is a more powerful antioxidant that vitamin C and E. It’s reported to help with cognition and focus.
  • Another amino acid that helps my son with cognition and focus is acetyl l-carnitine. It too can cross the blood-brain barrier and act as a powerful antioxidant. Studies have shown it improves kids symptoms with ADHD. The neurotransmitter in the brain, acetylcholine, is essential for proper brain function and the entire nervous system. Acetyl l-carnitine produces acetylcholine which helps in memory and mental alertness.
  • L-tyrosine is an amino acid and a building block for dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine;  neurotransmitters that helps regulate emotions. If levels of these neurotransmitters are insufficient, feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability and frustration can result. Dopamine controls the flow of information to the other parts of the brain. This occurs in the frontal lobes (called the prefrontal cortex). Disorders in this part of the brain (like ADHD) can cause a decline in memory, problem solving, and attention. I found this supplement really helps my son with ADHD with his emotions and positive attitude. L-tyrosine should be taken at least 30 minutes away from meals since it will compete for entry to the brain with other amino acids (protein). Also, it should not be taken in conjunction with MAO inhibitor drugs.

You will notice that taking pharmaceuticals was not on this list. Prescription meds are a personal choice.  I have opted to treat my son’s ADHD biomedically with diet and supplements. We have found that  his ADHD symptoms were significantly reduced, and his overall health and well-being improved. Try to remember that your child with ADHD wants to succeed; they  just need your help in figuring out how, along with the nutritional support to help them in daily life.

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26 Responses

  1. hi – i’ve been reading your blog and i’m dealing with some issues with my son (who is 7). the one psych says he’s ADHD, but the family dr doesn’t think so – he is thinking somewhere on the autism spectrum. (i’m currently waiting for other appointments on second opinions). but my ? is (and forgive me if i you’ve put it somewhere on here and i’ve missed it) but are you giving these amino acids in a multi vitamin product or are you giving them separately? also, how do you know how much to give? i’m going to continue reading thru your blog…thanks again!!

    • Hi. I give the amino acids separately so I can control the dose. Multi-vitamins usually don’t have enough mg. in them of the ones I need, but there are multi-amino acid blends on the market. My DAN doctor instructed me on how much, but I also figured it out through reading books. A great resource is Healing the Four A’s, Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies by Dr. Kenneth Bock. I’ve also read Dr. Amen’s books and he recommends Tyrosine. For example, my seven year old is about 55 lbs and takes 500 mg of acetyl l-carnitine twice a day. Some kids need more. Google information too; there are a lot of websites that can help you with dosage.

  2. This is a great blog
    .
    Like you said diet is affecting our kids big time. Clean diet and protein snack are the key. Any good recipe of high protein snack that’s GFCF? So far I only tried boiled egg and protein smoothies (with hemp). If you have any good recipe, please let me know.

    I found falling asleep is not an issue for my ADHD son. However he has a problem waking up in the middle of the night. If he sleep by himself, he will continuously waking up at night and having a hard time to fall asleep again. But when I sleep in the same bed with him, he’ll feel more secured and sleep through the night for a good 10-11 hours.

    I have tried GABA to improve his quality of sleep for 2 days but in the same 2 days…he sleep walk and pee in the carpet and still not be able to have a good quality of sleep. So right now I better wait until my appointment with our DAN who is also a naturopathic to see the dosage. I might have given him too much for his age that’s causing him to sleep walk (maybe the effect of being too relax).

    What kind of exercise do you recommend for ADHD kid? I read martial arts like taekwondo is good for ADHD kid, but for some reason it didn’t work for him. He just can’t focus and not following instruction and continuously singing in the class, so it’s really hard for the other students to concentrate as well.

    My son loves swimming but I read that the chlorine is not good for ADHD kid. But I just can’t stop him from swimming, he loves it and he’s good at it. I read your article about swimming about the taurine and magnesium cream. I can’t find those in here, but I gave him epsom salth bath everyday to remove some of the toxin.

    I haven’t tried a cooperative sport like soccer, hockey, etc. Do you have any luck on those? It’s hard for my son just to do individual sport, so I didn’t even try putting him in the sport where he has to work together with other people.

  3. Thanks for your help. I’ll try them out. Hopefully we can have a success story to share later on. =)

  4. I understand the rationale for trying different vitamins and diets, but I have reservations that adding a vitamin (or vitamin like) chemical will affect the brain to improve overall functioning or that restricting foods would have a positive effect. I don’t think you have proof that there is a biochemical deficit in the brains of these children. Citing studies as proof where there is no marked improvement is no better than the psychiatrist or drug maker citing “evidence” that ritalin improves functioning when obviously it doesn’t. Scientists cannot link any deficit of biochemicals in adhd, depressed, or psychotic individuals. Scientists ad neurologists do not have an answer to treatment that has the unique action of halting disturbing behavior while simultaneously maintaining normal brain function. Yes doctors can give thorazine to calm and reduce most psychotic symptoms but they cannot maintain an alert brain on those meds. Similarly telling me that by reducing certain foods or adding epsom baths will improve a child is not proof until you can link those restrictions or additions to brain function, which presently unfortunately you have none. No legitimate psychiatrit or herbalist for that matter would argue they understand the cause or etiology of mental disorders and so they have not been able to convince scientists that their treatments improve functioning and reduce dysfunction. I’m not trying to sound cruel but offer a counterpoint and some internal debate as I will not try to endlessly defend my ideas on this position. I do think that sound parents and things like exercise and sleep are good advice as common sense ideas are helpful.

    • I don’t need scientific studies or double-blind placebo drug trials. Parents that have tried various biomedical approaches to treating their child(ren) with ADHD or autism know when their child responds to a particular therapy, supplement/herbal, dietary intervention. Their biochemistry has been altered by either environmental toxins, gene susceptibility or both. Correcting the biochemical imbalances due help the biochemistry of the brain…I’ve seen it with my own child. Parenting, exercise and a good night’s sleep are important. But one needs to first address what prevents that good night’s sleep or inability to sync the body with the mind in order to exercise…and correcting the problem naturally, safely, is the best approach in my book.

  5. For a 7 yr old with ADHD what would the dosages of the supplements be?

    • Depends on his weight, the supplement, and his symptoms. Hard to give any advice without that information.

      • My sons weighs 50 lbs. His symptoms are impulsiveness, seeks attention and is distributive at inappropriate times, sometimes shows anger when being disciplined or isn’t receiving attention, nightmares regularly, and sometimes has trouble keeping feet and hands to himself. At the same time he is very smart… 3rd garden reading level, can carry on adult conversations, plays rwally well by himself or one on one, and is blessed with amazing athleticism. The supplements I was referring to are the one in your article above. Thanks

      • First I’d clean up his diet, maybe look at food allergies since he’s having nightmares. My ADHD son had recurring night terrors from age 2 -9 until I removed all dairy from his diet, Night terrors stopped immediately! Found out he was allergic to it. After a year off dairy, I added digestive enzymes back in and the dairy and he’s no longer reacting to it. The EFA’s, if you go onto Nordic Naturals website they have all kinds of options. If you used the ProOmega that we use, then I’d give him only 1 gel cap. For GABA, start with Kirkman Labs. 1 capsules of 250 mg. 2-3 times a day. Start out with one in morning, see how he responds/reacts for a few days. Then increase to another one around mid-day/afternoon. Then after a few more days you can give it to him at night with magnesium to aid relaxation and sleep. I give my son 50 mg. Pycnogenol/day. You can try that dose, but don’t go high on that one. Acetyl-l-carnitine can be added later; same with l-tyrosine. I’d see what success you get from the above before moving onto more. Make sure he gets a multi-vitamin that has all the b vitamins. My kids take a multi but I also give them a B-complex since the multis don’t have enough mgs. of the B vitamins in it.

  6. Dear Healing Autism & ADHD:
    My son has been officially diagnosed with ADHD. He is 8 and weighs 94lbs. I am hoping to try anything prior to a point of pharmaceutical medication. Your information and insight shared on your blog has been so helpful.

    We realize his diet may play a role too, he is a carb lover! Bread, pasta etc…we are working on altering this in our our family as a whole.

    We are looking to work in DHA & magnesium.

    Any suggestions you have are welcome!!!

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Make sure his diet is varied with lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein. Kids with ADHD need the protein for the amino acids that convert to the necessary neurotransmitters in their brain. Make sure his gut is healthy with probiotics and drinks lots and lots of water to clean out toxins and move the bowels. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a must(EFA/DHA) and a multi-vitamin too. B complex vitamins help kids with ADHD and the magnesium will too. Best wishes!

  7. What EFA blend have you found to have the correct ratio and high enough amounts? And what multi do you use?
    Thanks
    Michelle

  8. I’m also interested to know why you chose Nordic Naturals ProOmega vs ProDHA….

    • We started out with ProDHA and when my sons got older and bigger, my DAN doctor said to go to the higher dose in ProOmega (sometimes called Ultimate Omega). My 10 yr old only takes one gel cap/day and my 14 yr takes 2. I also take 2/day.

  9. dear sir
    my son 3years old weight14 kgs ,he did not talk and speech delay ? because he is
    mild adhd and autism child he call cherry but he com
    how is treatable he under stand but he did not speek plz give me home tips

    • Please read through all my posts on this blog for tips and suggestions to help your son. Methyl B-12 shots will help speech…so will DMG/TMG supplement. Type those in my search bar on this blog and find posts about it. Best wishes!

  10. To ALL,
    Always use higher EPA : DHA ratio!! So higher EPA ..usually 4:1 is good. Use 2 ProEFA capsule and 1 Pro EPA or 1 EPA elite capsule.
    Also do a web search on NUTRIIVEDA ORIGINAL ….. This has shown 100% positive results for autism / ADHD / speech delays etc kids…..

  11. Hi, I am in a fork in the road and trying to figure out how to best start my DS9 with ADHD on supplements. We do follow the Feingold diet but I really want to get him off of his stimulants medication. He has not gained weight in about 2 years. I don’t know where to begin and find all this information very helpful and overwhelming at the same time. The only supplement I have used for him is Omega’s by Carlson’s and we use an Epsom Salt bath from time to time. Do you have any advise for someone like me? I’ve read on your blog about Super Nu Thera from Kirkman’s as a multivitamin. Thank you so much!

    • Read through all of my blog on ADHD…look at side bar under categories and click on ADHD. It will list my posts I wrote about it. I would start with the diet clean up…reduce sugars/carbs, add more green veggies, smoothies/juice veggies. GABA may be a good start but definitely have an EFA and probiotic on board. Let me know how it’s going.

  12. What dose of Tyrosine did you start off with? It seems that the lowest dose I can find is 500mg. My child is 9 and 75 pounds.

  13. Hi, I have just been searching online for information regarding the dose for supplements. I have purchased the L-tyrosine 500mg caps, Omega kids (it’s what I have on hand) 163 epa 112 dha, and Be 100mg. We are removing anything processed and focusing on a higher protein/lower carb. Our daughter is 10, 95 pounds, can you help me with the L-tyrosine and b6 if possible?? I will also mention that she does not have the impulsive behavior or hyperacyivity that is normally accosiated with ADHD. Your blog has been more helpful then all the studies I have been reading!

    • Thank you. I think 500mg/day is plenty since she’s under 100lbs. But the Omegas are not high enough. I don’t know how much B6 your’re giving her, but a B complex may be better. Kids with ADD benefit from B1 (thiamine) and B6.

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