The influence of components of diet on the symptoms of ADHD in children

Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2012;63(2):127-34.


In most children with ADHD the cause of the disease is not exactly known, and its etiology is multifactorial. The conventional treatment is based on the combination of behavioral and psychological therapy and the pharmacotherapy. The pharmacotherapy has a high effectiveness in ADHD treatment, but it is often associated with undesirable side effects, such as: loss of appetite and weight, growth inhibition, abdominal pain, headaches, sleeping problems and increased blood pressure. In the recent years, much attention was devoted to the issue of an appropriate diet in this disease, especially when the standard pharmacotherapy is not effective. The diet of pregnant and lactating woman, and child may have an impact on the development and deepening of the hyperkinetic syndrome. There is much evidence to indicate that it is linked to nutritional factors. Chronic deficiencies of certain minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium and iodine and insufficient dietary intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids may have a significant impact on the development and deepening of the symptoms of ADHD in children. A crucial role in the diet of pregnant and lactating women, and child plays also polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, mainly DHA, which are necessary for proper development and function of brain. Their chronic deficiency may contribute to increase risk of ADHD in children. The authors of several studies also demonstrated the positive impact of the elimination food products containing synthetic food additives, like artificial food dyes and preservatives on the behavior of children with ADHD. The beneficial effects brought also the elimination of food products, that are rich in salicylates. It was found that the intake of food products with a low glycemic index helps to reduce symptoms in some hyperactive children. Providing an appropriate supply of nutrients and minerals and elimination of certain food products from diet is especially important during intensive growth and development of the child. In this article the issues concerning the role of the diet in treatment of the children with diagnosed ADHD and the importance of deficiency of certain minerals and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in pregnancy and child growth was discussed. There is a need for further studies in this area to evaluate the potential effectiveness of the diet in treating the symptoms of ADHD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / etiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / prevention & control*
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Food Additives / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Iodine / deficiency*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*


  • Food Additives
  • Iodine
  • Zinc