Tuesday, March 22, 2011
ADD- Is Zinc the answer?
We are always looking for more and better solutions to Attention Deficit Disorder, so I was pleased to read a study published last month in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, entitled Zinc for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: placebo-controlled double-blind pilot trial alone and combined with amphetamine, that looked at the role of ZINC in treating ADD. There have been some studies published in other countries that suggest supplemental dietary zinc may improve symptoms of ADD. This pilot study was small (as pilot studies should be) including just over 50 children.
The kids received zinc or placebo alone for the first two months, and there was no consistent, statistically significant advantage to taking zinc alone (vs. placebo). Then, the children were randomized to receive either zinc plus amphetamine (such as Ritalin) or a placebo plus the amphetamine for the next five weeks. Here is where the results are encouraging. Although the symptoms of inattention were not better for the kids who received the zinc plus amphetamine, the good news is that those receiving the zinc supplement required 37% less amphetamine to receive the same results compared with those taking amphetamine plus placebo.
Simply restated, the zinc seemed to help the amphetamine work more efficiently, so that a LOWER DOSE of the amphetamine achieved the desired results. Why is this important? Because lower effective doses mean LESS SIDE EFFECTS. So, should you rush out and buy zinc to supplement your child's ADD medications? No, I wouldn't do that based on a study with only 50 kids. However, while we're waiting for future studies with more significant numbers, why not be sure your child is meeting the recommended daily allowance for zinc? (~10mg per day for teens) What foods contain the most zinc? Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, watermelon), wheat germ, chocolate and peanuts. Hmm...maybe Snickers had the right idea! Or a healthier choice would be to head for the hummus (made with tahini- sesame seed paste.)
BOTTOM LINE: Zinc may help reduce the amount of amphetamine medication needed to improve symptoms of ADD.