Does Meat Avoidance During Pregnancy Contribute to ADHD in Children?

For baby’s lifelong health and happiness, women of childbearing years should eat quality, clean meat and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, choline, heme iron, B12, cholesterol, and zinc.

The primary cause of ADHD is inadequate neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that orchestrates and consciously controls thought and behavior. It is involved in planning, attention, self-discipline, social skills, and much more. With a less-developed prefrontal cortex, a child will be disadvantaged. With a well-developed prefrontal cortex, a child will have better impulse control, better focus, higher intelligence, better relationships, and more life success.

The prefrontal cortex begins developing in the mother’s womb. Its development determines how strong and active it is, and its development is highly sensitive to mother’s nutritional status during gestation in the womb.

Inadequate nutrition has been shown to be a primary cause of ADHD in numerous studies (other biological causes include heavy metals and organic pollutants). Specifically, ADHD is correlated with low maternal and child nutrient status in the following areas:

  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Zinc
  • Protein
  • Cholesterol
  • Choline
  • B12

Inadequate levels of the above nutrients during pregnancy increases risk of developmental difficulties involving cognitive, social-emotional, language development, motor skills, emotion, behavior, and adaptive functions.

Vegetarians and vegans are consistently lower (and often dangerously low) in the above nutrients, as shown in hundreds of independent research studies. A low-meat dietary pattern likely causes or contributes to ADHD and other developmental issues in children. Proponents of meat-free diets cite longer lifespan as ostensible proof that meat avoidance is healthy, but we must recognize the distinction between quality (happiness, functioning) of life and quantity (length) of life.

Due to the quantity of missing nutrients and the inconsistency in its implementation, reliance on dietary supplementation alone to fill gaps is precarious at best and insufficient at worst.

Scientific Studies

Following is a small representative sample of the many studies linking the above-mentioned deficiencies to both vegetarianism/veganism and separately to ADHD. For the sake of future generations, I urge researchers to DIRECTLY study a potential link between ADHD in children and mother’s vegetarian/vegan dietary pattern before and during pregnancy.

Low DHA and EPA (omega-3) levels in vegans and vegetarians:

Meat avoiders have lower iron stores on average, and low maternal iron stunts brain growth

Low B12 Status in Meat Avoiders

Lower Zinc Intake in Meat Avoiders

High Fish and Organ Meat Dietary Pattern Linked to Least ADHD Risk

Low Cholesterol Levels Linked to ADHD Risk

Low Iodine Levels in Vegans and Risk for Stunted Brain Growth and ADHD Symptoms

Higher Amounts of Dietary Choline as found in Animal Products Needed For Optimal Brain Development

About Nicholas Hundley, MS, CNS

Nicholas Hundley is a nutritional biochemist and certified nutrition specialist. He is the main author here at He practices nutrition and can be found at

Leave a Comment


Does Radiation (EMF & RF) from Modern Gadgets Contribute to ADHD?

Food Sources and Absorbability of Active Vitamin B12