Water Improves Cognition and Symptoms of ADHD

water-adhdTo lessen ADHD symptoms, drink more water.

It sounds simple and it is. And yet, many people forget to do this simple task each day, leading to poor cognition and mental attention.

Consider these studies done on children:

In one study, 40 children around 8 years old were tested on their memory and attention skills while on alternate days drinking water. Memory recall consisted of a picture of 15 objects, and attention was measured with each child’s response to a light following a 3-12 second delay.

The outdoor temperature was no more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit while inside temps were 68 degrees. The first day the children were allowed frequent trips to the water fountains and some carried water bottles. In addition, 300 mL of water was given at 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon and 200 mL at lunch was given between 12 and 1:00 pm. All water was consumed, and testing occurred 20 to 50 minutes afterward.

The second day, no water was allowed to be consumed but tests were done.

Test results were significantly better the day the water had been drunk compared to the day of no water at all.

Does mild dehydration impair cognition?

In another study, 58 children between 7-9 years old were divided into two groups. One group was given water, the other was not. Of the group that was given water, 250 mL to be exact, 212 mL on average was consumed. The outdoor temperature was between 41 to 50 degrees F.

Testing 20 minutes after most of the water had been consumed resulted in better attention and memory, revealing that mild dehydration in children can impair cognition.

Water Improves Cognition and Symptoms of ADHD

Does drinking enough water simply make you happier?  

Finally, in a class of  23 seven-year olds,  (approximate age), a study was conducted on eleven children who received water, while 12 did not, in a room temperature averaging 68 degrees F. Testing began 9:30 am, and ended 20 minutes later. After forty minutes, half the children were given a 500 mL bottle of which on average 409 mL was consumed. The test session began 45 min after the drink.

Those who drank water rated themselves as happier. Furthermore, visual attention and visual search were better in those who consumed water, while no change was observed in visual memory and visuomotor performance.

Still, there are many benefits with daily water consumption, in addition to improved cognition:  

  • Skin elasticity
  • Replenishes daily water loss through sweat, urinating
  • Aids bodily functions such as digestion, circulation, bowel functions, nutrient absorption and transport, and creation of saliva.
  • Fuels muscles and lubricates joints
  • Cleanses toxins

In conclusion, while it is possible that both older adults and children suffer from dehydration, the data with adults has been inconsistent. However, it is safe to assume dehydration has negative effects on the body in general, and on children’s cognition.

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