Low iron levels worsen inattention. Inattentive ADHD can be worsened by having low iron levels even if you iron levels are not low enough to cause anemia. This is one of many medical issues surrounding the symptoms of ADHD Inattentive that give me a huge headache.
Serum Ferritin is a measure of how much iron you have stored in your body. A child or adult may have low serum ferritin levels and have symptoms of inattention but they will never get a serum ferritin test because this test is never done except when there is a case of suspected anemia.
A study published in the December, 2010 Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmocology found that children with low ferritin levels had increased inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity and total ADHD scores. These researchers found that the amount of inattentive ADHD behavior and total ADHD behavior could be predicted by the level of blood ferritin. The authors of this study reported that, "Serum ferritin was inversely correlated with baseline inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and total ADHD symptom scores." The lower the ferritin level was, the more severe the ADHD symptoms.
Several other studies have also shown that low serum ferritin worsens the symptoms of ADHD. The problem and the headache is that no one routinely measures serum ferritin and unless you have signs of anemia you will never have a serum ferritin blood study.
It is even more complicated because iron is not one of these vitamins that you should take 'Willy nilly' and iron vitamin over dose is a real problem especially in children. Unlike some water soluble vitamins that you could take until the cows came home and no harm would come of it, over dosing on iron is a potentially fatal mistake.
The answer is to make sure that your diet and the diet of your children is filled with iron rich foods such as fortified cereals, fortified bread, and other fortified products (the labels will state that the food is fortified) and to consume at least three servings on an iron rich food such as:
|Iron fortified food help Inattention|
- Lean red meats, including beef, pork, lamb
- Seafood, such as oysters, clams, tuna, salmon, and shrimp, etc.
- Beans, including kidney, lima, navy, black, pinto, soy beans, and lentils
- Iron fortified whole grains, including cereals, breads, rice, and pasta
- Greens, including collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and turnip greens
- High in Milk Products (children who consume lots of milk get full on milk and then do not eat iron rich food)
- Low vitamin C diets (Vitamins C helps the body absorb iron)
- Vegetarians (It is harder for the body to absorb non-meat sources of iron)
The best way to insure that Inattentive ADHD symptoms are not being worsened by low ferritin levels is to increase your dietary intake of spinach, lean meats and other iron rich foods. Make sure to take your "one a day' vitamin so that your body has plenty of Vitamin C on board to aid with absorption. Your doctor may never offer to test your ferritin level but if your diet is adequate, he/she may not need to.
World J Biol Psychiatry. 2011 May 17. [Epub ahead of print]
Brain iron levels in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A pilot MRI study.
Cortese S, Azoulay R, Castellanos FX, Chalard F, Lecendreux M, Chechin D, Delorme R, Sebag G, Sbarbati A,Mouren MC, Bernardina BD, Konofal E.