Diet & Nutrition

Several dietary approaches have been documented to treat for mental health disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. Studies on dietary interventions for ADD have limitations, and researchers agree that more research is needed to determine if dietary changes should be recommended for ADD treatment. Dietary approaches to help ease ADD symptoms include:

Elimination Diets: Elimination diets exclude foods associated with hypersensitivity. The effects of an elimination diet on ADD have been investigated in many studies, “showing a significant effect of a restricted elimination diet on symptoms of ADHD and establishing that there clearly is a diet behavior connection.” Elimination diets typically have “two meats (often lamb and turkey), two carbohydrate sources (rice and potato), two fruits (often banana and pear), a range of root and green vegetables, bottled water, sunflower oil, and milk free margarine.” These foods do not contain additives (colors, flavors and preservatives), commonly found in ham, bacon and sausage, as well as artificially colored and flavored candy and drinks.

Fish oil caps_Stephen CummingsFatty Acid Supplementation: A recent study noted that deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids  (i.e. omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in flax seed oil and fish oils) have been linked to ADD. The authors argued that since some ADD patients either resist medication, do not adhere to medication, or stop medication due to negative side effects, more research should be done on interventions like supplementing the diet with essential fatty acids.

Micronutrient supplementation: A study published in 2014 examined a “broad-based micronutrient formula” that consisted mainly of vitamins and minerals–without fatty acids–to see if it was effective and safe to treat adults with ADD. Researchers determined that ADD symptoms among adults who received micronutrients improved more compared to the group who received a placebo (a pill that has no effect at all).  Additional analysis later found that “there was a greater change in mood favoring active treatment over placebo” for study participants who had moderate/severe depression at the beginning of the study.