Fruits and Veggies Improve ADHD in Kids

There’s a simple prescription for treating ADHD in children – eat more fruits and vegetables. New findings published in the online journal Nutritional Neuroscience linked diets high in fruits and veggies with less severe inattention, a key symptom of ADHD.

Vitamins and minerals serve key roles (often as cofactors) in neurotransmitter synthesis and brain function and provide a potential link between vitamin/mineral insufficiencies or deficiencies and ADHD. There have been reports that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, and magnesium may improve cognition and ADHD symptoms, say the researchers.

The Study Design and Results

This trial, which involved 134 children with ADHD symptoms, was part of a larger study. Parents were asked to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire for 90 days related to their kids’ diet, including the most-consumed foods and typical portion sizes.

Parents were then asked to rate their children’s inattention symptoms (e.g., trouble focusing, difficulty remembering things, and inability to manage emotions) on a separate questionnaire 

Kids with higher intakes of fruits and vegetables experienced less extreme symptoms associated with inattention.

“Our study also examined associations between the HEI-2015 dietary component scores and symptom severity. The HEI-2015 vegetable and fruit component scores were inversely associated with inattention even after adjusting for covariates, while refined grains score showed a positive association. The vegetable and fruit intake associations are consistent with previous findings that showed lower frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with higher prevalence of ADHD diagnosis. Our study adds to this finding by linking lower fruit and vegetable intake specifically to increased severity of inattention,” say the authors.

Conclusion

Increased intake of fruits and vegetables was inversely associated with severity of inattention. However, overall diet quality as measured by the HEI was not associated with ADHD symptoms nor emotional dysregulation severity in this cohort of children. These findings are important because they suggest that dietary intake is associated with symptoms of inattention in children with ADHD and emotional dysregulation: those eating fewer fruits and vegetables were likely to have more severe inattention. 

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