ADD, ADHD And Nutrition
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are the fastest growing disorders of children in the United States today. An amazing nine to ten percent of all school-aged children are being diagnosed with this disorder. Up to ten times more boys than girls are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.
ADD/ADHD is primarily thought of as a childhood disorder, however, some adults are also affected. It can cause a variety of learning disabilities, although the child is actually usually of average or above average intelligence.
A host of factors have been lined to this disorder including: heredity, allergies, smoking during pregnancy, hyperinsulinemia, oxygen deprivation at birth, environmental stress, pollution, injury, anxiety, artificial food additives, infection, lead poisoning, and prenatal trauma. Recently, more and more researchers are focusing on the link between food additives, preservatives, dyes and salicylates, in foods and their role in promoting or perpetuating this disorder. Items such as these can throw the whole system off balance and can have a detrimental impact on the chemistry of developing brains. Often, food additives produce undesirable effects on mood and behavior in sensitive children.
Medical researchers have also suggested that a lack of protein in the diet can cause hyperactivity in children. And although the topic of diet and ADD/ADHD has been debated heatedly for many years, researchers have definitively shown that food additives have a major role to play in causing hyperactivity and other mood disorders.
With the huge increases in diagnoses of ADD/ADHD many physicians feel that this is being over diagnosed. Many of the symptoms including hyperactivity, temper tantrums, impatience and absentmindedness can be quite normal depending on the child’s age. Apparently as many as sixty percent of parents suspect at one point or another that their child has ADD or ADHD.
Whether or not the child in fact has this disorder or not, there are a number of important nutrients that can help with a child suffering from any of the common symptoms. Calcium and magnesium are some of the most important supplements as these have a calming effect on the nervous system. A good multivitamin should also be sought out as all nutrients are needed to maintain optimal health and lacking even one can cause changes in moods.
Vitamin B complex is especially important as well as these are needed to correct brain function. They also enhance adrenal gland function thereby helping the body to cope with the effects of stress should this be a potential irritant for the child. EFAs are often found to be deficient in those suffering from ADD or ADHD so these too should be added to the diet.
Most importantly staying away from preservatives and additives will go a long way to improving a child’s health. Avoid carbonated beverages, and limit dairy products to check for allergies. Do not use foods containing artificial colour and flavor, MSG, yeast, or foods that contain salicylates. Foods naturally containing salicylates include almonds, apples, apricots, berries, cherries, cucumbers, currants, oranges, peaches, peppers, plums, prunes and tomatoes. While these are generally healthy choices, if your child is suffering from an allergy to this substance try eliminated these foods to check for improvement. Finally, follow a high protein diet and see if this helps. Adding healthy nutrients and avoiding artificial and processed foods will do your child and your family a world of good regardless of whether the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD fits.
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