Children’s Series: ADD and ADHD

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child-playingAttention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are very common childhood behavioral and developmental disorders. Onset usually occurs by the age of 3 and can last through adulthood. Children with ADD and ADHD usually have trouble paying attention, staying focused, and controlling their behavior.

A child with ADD/ADHD may:

Daydream a lot
Forget or lose things a lot
Squirm or fidget
Talk too much
Make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
Have a hard time resisting temptation
Have trouble taking turns
Have difficulty getting along with others

Some possible triggers for ADD/ADHD include:

Food additives
Nutrient deficiencies
Food sensitivities / food allergies
Sucrose consumption
Ear infections
Heavy metal toxicity

It is important to consult with your doctor for a diagnosis. However, in many cases diet can have a huge benefit in alleviating some of the symptoms above. If your child suffers from frequent mood swings, ear infections, eczema, allergies, attention deficit disorder, or other developmental problems, then we recommend examining your child’s diet and digestive health. Often children with ADD/ADHD have food sensitivities and intestinal permeability, which leads to an imbalance in gut flora and can increase the incidence of candida infections. Testing your child for food allergies or food sensitivities is highly recommended. Common culprits include soy, corn, wheat/gluten, dairy, nuts, peanuts, citrus, dyes, and preservatives. Eliminating these foods from your child’s diet can improve ADD/ADHD symptoms.

Gluten is a protein present in wheat, barley and rye. Some people have difficulty digesting gluten (gluten sensitivity) and others have a true allergy to gluten (celiac disease). A 2006 study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders confirmed the link between ADHD and celiac disease. Researchers studied 132 participants affected by celiac disease and tested for ADHD symptoms before and after a gluten-free diet. The results indicated that a gluten-free diet may improve attention deficit disorder symptoms significantly within a short period of time. We recommend trying a gluten elimination diet or testing for celiac disease if your child has ADD/ADHD symptoms.

A new study published by Journal of Pediatrics warns against the amount of caffeine and other stimulants being consumed by teens. Researchers looked at brands like Red Bull, Spike Shooter and Redline, and found cases of seizures, delusions, heart problems, and kidney or liver damage. These drinks can be particularly harmful to children and teens that have cardiovascular or diabetic conditions, as well as have a negative affect on children and adolescents with ADHD.

Nutritional supplements can also play a role in supporting children with ADD/ADHD. Again, consult with a naturopath or your child’s primary care physician to determine what is best for your child’s individual situation.

Aside from a good multivitamin, DHA and a comprehensive attention formula are recommended. Most children could benefit from these nutrients, as well. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a polyunsaturated omega-3 essential fatty acid found throughout the body. It is a major structural fat in the brain and retina accounting for up to 97% of the omega-3 fats in the brain and up to 93% of the omega-3 fats in the retina. It is also a key component of the heart and an important building block for nerve tissue. Pathway NEUROMINS DHA is an excellent all natural, vegetarian source of DHA.

Most children are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Results of a new study in the journal Nutrition show that children with ADHD have increased learning and improved behavior when given DHA daily. According to the study, the children taking DHA showed improvement in spelling and the ability to divide attention, and had lower parent ratings of hyperactivity and restlessness.

Pathway KID’S ATTENTION PLUS is a unique liquid herbal formula designed especially for children who struggle with focus and concentration issues. It contains herbs that can help with handling stress, nervous exhaustion and fatigue, and can promote a sense of relaxation.

If you think your child may have ADD/ADHD please consult with a doctor. At Village Green Apothecary, our nutritionists and doctors work with patients to create optimal health by using natural remedies, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, and homeopathic treatments. They also recommend tailored diet plans, exercise routines, lifestyle tips, and specialized testing to address the root cause(s) of ADD/ADHD symptoms.

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  • Paula Gallagher
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    Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
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February 2015
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