Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by a pattern of behavior, present in multiple settings (e.g., school and home), that can result in performance issues in social, educational, or work settings. ADHD, a disorder that begins in childhood, can continue through adulthood for some people.
Current research is revealing the connections between mental health disorders and nutrient deficiencies. Many factors play a roll in ADHD when it comes to nutrition, including micronutrient deficiency.
Research has demonstrated that children diagnosed with AD/HD are more likely to have iron deficiency. Ferritin is a measure of stored iron that can be assessed via a blood test. For example, a particular study found that 84% of children assessed with a diagnosis of AD/HD had low serum ferritin levels in comparison to only 18% of children assessed who were not diagnosed with AD/HD. Interestingly, the literature has also demonstrated that lower ferritin levels were associated with poorer cognitive functioning and AD/HD symptomology. In one particular small study, young children (between the ages of 5-8) who had lower than expected levels of serum ferritin, were supplemented with iron (about 80 mg/day), which significantly reduced the presence of AD/HD symptoms.
Low birth weight infants supplemented with zinc (5 mg/d) had the highest evaluations on a behavioral assessment measure. This study was a two month, double-blind randomized controlled trial that assessed low birth weight infants. Additionally, researchers suggested that a combination of iron at a rate of 20 mg/day and zinc, 5 mg/day, for a period of six months might improve motor and behavioral development in infants who may be a greater risk for micronutrient deficiencies.
In addition to iron, copper has been implicated in AD/HD. Copper is important for putting iron in its usable form and it is necessary for the synthesis of dopamine and norepinephrine. Some research has suggested that about a quarter of children with AD/HD were deficient in copper.