Mitochondrial Dysfunction & Dietary Supplementation in ADHD & Anxiety

Attention deficit disorder, both with (ADHD) and without (ADD) hyperactivity, (herein abbreviated as AD/HD) is the most frequent of all neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs), being present in 5-7% of children and 2.5-5% of adults. Despite being common, AD/HD is far less studied than many other NDDs in which it is closely related, in particular autism. AD/HD is also closely related to several other brain disorders, including generalized anxiety, depression, bipolar, conduct disorder, schizophrenia, migraine, epilepsy, and cognitive impairment. These disorders often coexist in the same individuals and families, and the predisposing genes overlap considerably. Hundreds, likely thousands, of genes are involved. In large parts, these are the genes needed to develop, operate, and maintain the brain. There are several common genetic/biological pathways leading to ADHD and other brain disorder, and many of these are treatable.

One of the common treatable genetic/biological pathways leading to AD/HD, anxiety, and other brain disorders is mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to disease by increasing reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in oxidative damage. Increased ROS has been shown by several studies in AD/HD, which suggests that antioxidants could be beneficial. Several studies have shown improvement in AD/HD with dietary supplementation, which mostly act on mitochondria, including L-acetylcarnitine, vitamin B6, magnesium, and zinc. Mitochondrial dysfunction is very common in multiple NDDs, results of supplementation are frequently positive, and side effects are rare and mild. Thus, in his practice, Dr. Boles generally treats NDDs with mitochondrial-targeted dietary supplements. Due to the complexity of energy metabolism, several different dietary supplements are important. For this reason, a combination product is usually recommended, especially SpectrumNeeds® (made by NeuroNeeds®), which contains 33 active ingredients and of which Dr. Boles is the principal inventor. In addition, he generally also recommends additional coenzyme Q10 in the highly bioavailable form of ubiquinol (of which the QNeeds® brand is sold by NeuroNeeds®).

Beyond the mitochondria, the balance of excitatory to inhibitory neurotransmission is very important in brain disorders, especially in ADHD and anxiety, and is often skewed towards excitation. Neurotransmitters of particular importance include GABA (inhibitory), glutamine (excitatory) and serotonin (mixed). Dietary supplementation aimed at reestablishing this balance can often be helpful. One such combination product is CalmNeeds® (also sold by NeuroNeeds®), which in part, addresses these three neurotransmitter pathways. An additional supplement to consider is omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil, which studies generally show is helpful in AD/HD).

In addition to having a higher incidence of other brain disorders, people with AD/HD are predisposed towards a wide range of other conditions. Perhaps the core of AD/HD is impaired executive function, and affected individuals tend to make poor life choices, leading to higher proportions with smoking, drug addiction, young age at pregnancy, accidents, low education achievement, unemployment, and many other social issues. AD/HD is a serious brain disorder, and should be treated as such. Since medications generally are quite effective in AD/HD, Dr. Boles believes that dietary supplementation should be in addition to, not in lieu of, drug therapy. On dietary supplementation, most (but not all) patients do improve. Clinical improvement can be in core NDD areas (attention, behavior, language, etc.) and/or in ancillary symptomatology (chronic pain, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, etc.). Anxiety also is frequently encountered, and generally responds to therapy. 

In this 1 hour lecture titled “Mito Dysfunction & Dietary Supplementation in ADHD & Anxiety”, Dr. Boles shares several cases from his practice to show how modern genetics can integrate DNA sequencing, dietary supplements, and medications to improve patient outcomes.

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Disclosure: Dr. Boles is the Chief Medical & Scientific Officer for NeuroNeeds LLC, the start-up company that makes SpectrumNeeds®, QNeeds®, and CalmNeeds®. As such, he may receive financial compensation based upon by efforts and/or the success of the company. You are under no obligation to purchase this or any products, whether recommended by Dr. Boles or another health care provider. As always, it is recommended that you contact your physician regarding these products and all other changes to disease management.

The Content within this article and NeuroNews Blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Blog.