ADHD, Blood Pressure, and Vitamin D are All Linked

Evidence from neurological studies suggests that ADHD symptoms may be related to disturbances in dopamine levels in brain areas which also control blood pressure. Vitamin D helps regulate the activity of dopamine and might be related to ADHD symptoms. German researchers wanted to know if adolescents with ADHD had altered blood pressure regulation and if vitamin D played any role in this relationship. Therefore they examined data from the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents. This survey collects data on physical, psychological, and social health parameters from a nationwide sample of German children and adolescents.

A total of 6,922 children aged 11-17 were examined for this study. 430 (6.2%) had an ADHD diagnosis. 399 (5.8%) were considered “suspected ADHD subjects” because they had a value of ≥7 on the hyperactivity-inattention scale of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire is a screening tool completed by parents for emotional and behavioral problems in children and adolescents. The rest of the children made up a third group who had neither an ADHD diagnosis nor abnormal hyperactivity-inattention symptoms.

Systolic and diastolic blood pressure were both significantly lower in ADHD than in non-ADHD subjects. Similar results were seen when comparing suspected ADHD subjects with controls. As hyperactivity-inattention symptoms increased, blood pressure decreased. Systolic, diastolic, and mean blood pressure were all independently and significantly associated with ADHD.

The ADHD group had significantly lower vitamin D levels than the non-ADHD group (41.0 ± 20.5 nmol/l compared with 44.8 ± 28.0 nmol/l). The suspected ADHD participants also had lower vitamin D levels than the control group (40.3 ± 21.5 nmol/l). Serum vitamin D level was an independent and significant predictor of ADHD diagnosis and symptoms. The data also revealed that circulating vitamin D mediates the inverse relationship between blood pressure and ADHD. The researchers speculate that, “lower serum vitamin D concentrations may serve as a plausible risk factor for triggering hyperactivity and attentional impairment as central components of the underlying disorder.”

 

Reference.

Meyer, T., Becker, A., Sundermann, J., Rothenberger, A., & Herrmann-Lingen, C. (2016). Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder is associated with reduced blood pressure and serum vitamin d levels: Results from the nationwide german health interview and examination survey for children and adolescents (kiggs). European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,

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