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More on ADHD and Diet

Does ADHD have anything to do with enzymes and can No-Fenol enzyme supplements help?

Mary, a long time friend of Myomancy, dropped me a line recently about ADHD and diet with a link to information on enzymes and ADHD. Enyzmes act as a catalysts for the chemical reactions that drive our biology and each has a specific role to play. The article promotes the use of No-Fenol, an enzyme supplement that is typical of the type on the market.

When I looked at ADHD and diet, I found there was no evidence of a poor diet causing ADHD. The best advice I could find was to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. This won’t directly help with the ADHD but you will feel better and it helps to avoid weight problems (see ADHD and Obesity). However there was connection between omega-3 and ADHD . Supplements of fish oils did help some people on some specific tasks. Could enzyme supplements help ADHD in the same way?

The logic behind enzymes supplements is that by increasing the number of enzymes in the digestive system all the food you eat will be processed more efficiently. This will ensure that all the vitamins and minerals needed at picked up from our food. This presupposes that ADHD is caused by vitamin or mineral deficiencies, a position that is questionable.

Searching both Google Scholar and the maker of No-Fenol’s web site I can find no evidence to say that enzymes supplements help ADHD. In fact I can’t find a single piece of evidence that enzymes supplements can help with anything other highly specific medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis.

Diet and ADHD is an area that is rich in advice, supplements and books. Most of these are done with the best intentions but lack any direct evidence for their claims. Companies use science to show how Ingredient X helps with Vitamin Y that has been linked to Problem Z but that doesn’t mean the taking more X or Y will help with Z. Before taking any supplement its worth asking to see research showing that the specific product you are considering buying works on your problem. If they can’t then their claims are speculation at best.

See also:
The Omega-3 Diet
ALA to DHA: The Fish Oil Alphabet

2 Comments

  1. ML

    I think the enzyme and diet advice is more relevant to those people who have ADHD along with food sensitivities and/or digestive troubles. I would certainly not go so far as to say that nutritional or GI troubles cause ADHD, but I think they can certainly contribute to behaviour associated with ADHD. A person without ADHD may experience restlessness and irritability as a result of diet-related symptoms, but not have it affect their behaviour, whereas in a person with ADHD who has the same symptoms, the expression of that restlessness and irritability may be heightened due to poorer impulse control.
    We must not be hasty in trying to jump at possible causes, but recognize that, for a person with ADHD, other factors can interact with and aggravate the already-present symptoms of poor impulse and attentional controls.

  2. Most people don’t get the right amount of enzymes they need to digest their food [most enzymes are cooked away and they don’t exist in extremely processed foods] so everyone can benefit from enzyme supplements.

    going on the gluten-free/casein-free diet is similar to the supplements in that it cuts out a lot of what you may have trouble digesting. it’s really the same concept just in reverse, or something.

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