ADHD and ADD have been on the rise for the past 20 years, reaching 3 million children each year in the US. It is more common in males and it costs $42.5 billion dollars each year to Americans. Treatment usually consists of a stimulant drug called Adderall or Ritalin, most often to help a child sit still in a classroom. It seems counter-intuitive to give a child a stimulant to help calm them down but when you dive into how the brain and body work, it makes sense.
The cause of ADHD and ADD in a person is low dopamine levels being produced in the brain. When you give a kid a stimulant, it raises the level of dopamine in the brain. A child naturally wants to move around when their level of dopamine gets low because it is increased during exercise and movement. Food also raises dopamine levels in the brain so these kids will often reach for a snack when it drops too low. Your body can’t live without dopamine, and in extreme cases, it leads to Parkinson’s Disease.
What leads to low levels of dopamine in the brain? One cause includes too little consumption of tyrosine in the diet, an amino acid that you have to consume in the diet. Children today do not get enough protein in the diet to supply the body the necessary tyrosine to make dopamine. The other issue with diet is that we are not eating often enough. A small snack every 2 hours consisting of mostly protein, will do a great job in helping kids focus better during the day. Allowing kids to move around more often will also help keep them more focused. The average adult has a hard time concentrating on something for more than 90 minutes without loss of production. A break every 90 minutes to get up and move around would be ideal at the very least.
We first recommend to our patients that they supplement with Tyrosine to raise dopamine levels faster so a child can see the difference in their focus. Along with Tyrosine, I recommend B6 and Lysine as these are also crucial for the conversion of Tyrosine into dopamine. With these simple steps, a child is able to focus better. We need to start looking at how the body works and help it naturally, rather than medicate a symptom of a deficiency in a diet.
-Dr. Brian Opp, Chiropractor