Ask the Experts

Testing for Iron and Zinc

“How do I go about getting my son’s zinc and iron levels tested?”

Checking your child’s levels of zinc and iron is easy. Ask your doctor to order a zinc level and a serum ferritin (iron) test. Several research studies have shown that correcting an iron1 or a zinc2 deficiency can improve ADHD symptoms. I usually recommend using supplements, but you can also increase his consumption of iron- and zinc-rich foods. Foods high in iron include chicken, beef, fish, soybeans, seeds, cereal fortified with iron, and blackstrap molasses. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, meats, beans, and some fortified cereals. I also test a child’s vitamin D levels, since many children are deficient in this key vitamin.

1 Konofal, Eric, Michel Lecendreux, Isabelle Arnulf, and Marie-Christine Mouren. “Iron Deficiency in Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, vol. 158, no. 12, 2004, pp. 1113.
2 Akhondzadeh, Shahin, et al. “Zinc Sulfate as an Adjunct to Methylphenidate for the Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children: A Double Blind and Randomized Trial.” BMC Psychiatry, vol. 4, no. 1, 8 Apr. 2004, doi:10.1186/1471-244x-4-9.