Nutrients And ADHD

The parents who end up in my office and my programs just want their kids to feel better and function their best.

They are looking to get beyond diagnosis and figure out why their kids are having emotional outbursts, aggressive reactions to seemingly small triggers, are harming themselves and those around them, are hyperactive, are disruptive, are anxious, can’t focus.

They don’t want bandaids; they want root cause resolution.

I help these parents shift their kids’ behaviours by keeping them focused on improving the overall health of the body.

As we work together they come to understand that various health markers around the body – some of which seem to have nothing to do with the brain – actually contribute significantly to how their child feels and functions.

I call these biological stressors, and they are too often missed by parents, doctors and therapists.

A growing body of research exists to help us understand some of the biological stressors that influence behaviour. We know that hypersensitivities to food can look like ADHD in some kids. We know that behaviour often improves in celiacs who eliminate gluten. We know that the microbes in the gut can cause a child to act hyperactive, depressed, anxious and aggressive. We know that blood sugar instability can cause moodiness and hyperactivity. We know that poor quality sleep can influence a child’s impulsivity and focus.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We also know that children with diagnoses like ADHD and autism often share some common nutritional deficiencies. When corrected, behaviours like aggression, self harm and anxiety often improve.

The first fully blind randomized study to investigate efficacy and safety of micronutrients in children with ADHD was just published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in October, 2017.

While lots of studies already exist showing a connection between what we eat and how we feel (see some of them in the references section below), these researchers have added to our understanding that addressing nutritional deficiencies in particular can improve a child’s behaviour – this time using the gold standard “double blind placebo” study design.

The study involved 93 non-medicated children, aged 7-12, with diagnosed ADHD who were followed for 10 weeks. One group was given a vitamin-mineral supplement that included 13 vitamins, 17 minerals, and four amino acids at doses likely to be sufficient to elicit a response without causing adverse effects. The other group was given a placebo.

Clinicians, teachers and parents reported significant improvement in emotional regulation, aggression and general functioning among the treatment group compared to the placebo group. There were no adverse side effects reported.

This is an observational study, so it is not without potential flaws, but it adds to a growing body of research suggesting that nutrition and behaviour are linked and that improving nutritional density of the diet using food and supplements can be a safe and valid part of treatment.  

This is what I also see in my nutrition practice.

Good nutrition matters. Our kids are under a great deal of stress – social, environmental and biological – and they need premium fuel.

Feeding your child is not easy. I get it. It takes time, money and energy. It’s especially tricky if your have a picky eater – a behaviour that often goes hand in hand with the other troubling ones I listed above.

But food matters, and finding strategies to feed your family is well worth the effort if you want to resolve the troubling symptoms you’re seeing.

To help parents with this I developed a straightforward framework I call, “Raising Resilience”. It focuses parents in on actionable strategies that follow 2 prongs – “cleaning up” and “building”.

When we raise resilience we address biological stressors that influence behaviour. And by doing that we help our kids feel better, function better and be healthier.

To learn more about how to feed your kids to improve their ability to self regulate, focus, calm down, be less anxious, learn better and feel better come to my upcoming webinar.


 

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References:

Rucklidge JJ et al (2017). Vitamin-mineral treatment improves aggression and emotional regulation in children with ADHD: a fully blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28967099  

Nutrition and autism https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22151477

Nutrition and autism: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2875953/

Nutrients and ADHD https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19344299

Nutrients and Bipolar disorder https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20875144

Nutrition and violent, antisocial behaviour https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4817227/

Nutrition and depression https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y

Nutritional deficiencies and ADHD https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5153567/

Biological stressors as contributors to mental health conditions http://www.mentalhealthexcellence.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015_SagePub_Clinical-Psychological-Science_B-Kaplan_Nutritional-Mental-Health.pdf

Celiac disease and behaviour https://bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2431-11-46

Blood sugar and behaviour https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21904085

Food sensitivities and ADHD http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1399-3038.2008.00749.x/full

Sleep and ADHD https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/09/22/could-adhd-be-a-type-of-sleep-disorder-that-would-fundamentally-change-how-we-treat-it/?utm_term=.133da3d8835e

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