By Dr. Arielle Levitan and Dr. Romy Block
As physicians we often hear people complain that they have trouble holding their attention. Sometimes this is a temporary issue, while for others it is an on going struggle. Of course life circumstances and other distractions can play a role.
Distractions aside, we often hear about the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder. This term is used to describe both children and adults who have an impaired ability to stay on task. As with most diagnoses it encompasses a spectrum of traits which can manifest in different ways in different people. Not surprisingly people’s responses to different treatments also varies greatly from person to person. There is a huge range of treatment options, some doctor prescribed and other are vitamins and supplements. This is of course in addition to many behavioral techniques that can and should be tried.
The diagnosis of ADD seems to come readily these days. Going into all its nuances is best left to psychiatrists and other experts in that field, as are the various prescription medications. Suffice it to say, sometimes we believe medication is doled out too easily and there are major downsides to many of the commonly used stimulants. Not only can they be addictive, but they can have dangerous side effects, particularly involving blood pressure and cardiac effects. Needless to say, they should only be used when absolutely necessary. Sometimes vitamins can help to minimize the dose of medication needed or avoid it all together.
Of all the supplements touted for attention, Omega 3s (typically found as fish oil) are probably the most studied in this context. Data suggests that regular use of them can improve attention in both children and adults. EPA and DHA seem to play some role in brain development and are also found in prenatal supplements and baby formula for this reason. How much to take still seems up for debate though standard dosing is generally about 1000mg daily of a combined EPA/DHA supplements.
Magnesium has also been suggested to be helpful for ADD. Groups of children studied showed less hyperactivity when given magnesium supplements. It seems that these findings might carry over to adults struggling to attend to various tasks, but has yet been established. Magnesium’s important role in cellular function throughout the body may help with attention by improving the function of nerve cells.
In our next article, we will look at some additional options – some that can be beneficial in moderation and others that should be avoided.
Vitamins do indeed play a role in attention issues, but no one is identical. We all have unique vitamin needs. We believe finding a Personalized Multivitamin that takes into account your diet, lifestyle and health needs will maximize their effectiveness and safety for you.
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this article may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.