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Thursday, October 13, 2011

ADHD in children and nutrition

I always stressed how important nutrition is to your body and mind. This is another connection between what you eat and a behaviour.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed more than the past. Estimates of the percentage of children and adolescent who have ADHD in australia is 1.7% to 17.8%.

ADHD is characterized by restlessness, fidgeting, difficulty focusing, poor impulse control, distractibility, and in some cases overactivity; These symptoms often have negative consequences on the child’s academic performance, social skills, and relationships with family members, teachers, and peers.

It is a complex disorder and the exact cause is unknown, however thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy, micronutrient deficiencies, excessive television watching early in life, and inadequate omega-3 fatty acid intake etc.

Nutrition and ADHD

Some of the dietary factors that have been linked to ADHD risk are

High sugar intake is also associated with hyperactive behavior

Inadequate micronutrient intake. Supplementation to correct micronutrient deficiencies has been shown to improve ADHD symptoms.2,8

A low-nutrient diet high in processed foods and soft drinks at age 4 ½ has been associated with hyperactivity in children

Food additives and dyes: many colored foods are marketed to children, and hyperactivity in children following ingestion of food dyes is well documented in placebo-controlled studies.

There is preliminary evidence that certain pesticides (called organophosphates) commonly found on some fruits are associated

Omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA) are the building blocks a child needs to build a healthy brain. Insufficient omega-3 levels are common in children with ADHD, and there is evidence that omega-3 supplementation, especially in combination with the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA; found in borage oil and evening primrose oil) improves behavior and ADHD symptoms.

Children diagnosed with ADHD are given a management plan, with the aim of reducing the effects of ADHD on the child's social, emotional and academic functioning.

There are some medications that doctors give to those children such as dexamphetamine or methylphenidate (Attenta, Ritalin). These are thought to act by normalising the imbalance in the brain's neurotransmitter chemicals. They may need to be continued for months or years.

Like all medications the stimulants can have side effects.
I am not against science and western medicine. They do work wonders and sometimes there is no choice but to take them. However there are alternative treatments available as well. Nutrition, exercise, stress managements are all proven to be very effective in ADHD in children as well as adults.

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