Metabolism and ADD

People can become defensive when the question of their child’s diet comes up. It’s not that any single dietary thing causes ADD, but it can intensify the symptoms.

Certain formulas and manufactured baby foods do not always have enough fatty acids for the development of the infant’s brain, eyes, and heart.

However, if a child’s brain did not have the genetic disposition toward ADD, this might have been a factor in her slow development.

No one knows the cause of attention deficit disorder.

The prevailing theory holds that it is a complex brain development issue. Brain scans tend to confirm that the brains of ADD children are smaller than average (3 percent), according to Dr. F. Xavier Castellanos of New York University. SPECT studies by Dr. Daniel Amen depict specific zones of the brain that correlate to ADD symptoms.

Another theory holds that the smaller brain is the result of a developmental problem in the metabolism of the child. That means the brain is not receiving enough nutrients so it functions at a lower level.

This theory would mean that anyone could develop ADD cognitive symptoms if their diets were poor.

If you would like to know what dietary elements might be contributing to your child’s symptoms, it’s best if you fill out this audit for diet-related symptoms of ADD.

Even those with healthy diets can lack essential minerals and vitamins.

Researchers have shown also that defects in the stomach walls can result in the loss of the nutrients we consume. This can contribute to a number of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia.

Abnormal metabolisms are among the most important factors to consider in children with ADD, regardless of the cause.

Proper nutrition is vital.

There are four critical food components (fatty acids, sugars, minerals, and vitamins) that are most vital for these children.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – They build bridges across cells so as to promote effective body coordination. They produce a series of hormones, including prostaglandins. Prostaglandins promote communication between cells, especially those in the brain and the retina of the eye.

The most effective essential fatty acids for brain health and function are found in fish, particularly fatty fish such as tuna and salmon, and vegetable oils like flaxseed oil.

Sugar – Sugar is stored in our cells as glycogen. Your muscles, liver and fatty tissues can store this glycogen for later, but your brain cannot. When a person takes in sugar, it enters the bloodstream and becomes blood glucose.

Remember the brain doesn’t store glycogen. The adrenal glands produce stimulants, called epinephrine and norepinephrine. These chemicals send glucose to the brain, making it more active and functional.

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ADD kids don’t produce the same level of stimulants as other children.

That’s why their brains go into sleep mode.

To counter that, children with ADD instinctively increase their physical activity to stimulate themselves and jump-start their brain out of sleep mode.

You thought they were acting crazy and being irresponsible?

In truth, they are trying to do the opposite. They become frantic in their efforts to stimulate themselves, so they do what appear to be crazy things, e.g. running amok.

ADD children need natural sources of carbohydrates, especially if they are experiencing stress, but that does not mean candy bars and Cokes.

Natural complex carbs are found in whole grains (brown rice, oats, whole grain breads), whole fruits and vegetables – starchy (yams, legumes) and non-starchy (basically all other veggies).

Minerals – Calcium and magnesium are essential to the neural network. Foods high in calcium include yogurt, cow milk, soy milk (preferred), rice milk (actually the sweetest of all the kinds of milk), cottage cheese, canned sardines with the bones crushed with the meat, beans, lentils, and chickpeas.

Magnesium is a dance partner to calcium and other minerals. It magnifies their effects and enables calcium to do its job.

In two recent studies authored by T. Kozielec in Magnesium Research (1997), 94 percent of ADD children showed low magnesium. More important, when fifty ADD children were administered 200 milligrams a day, their hyperactivity significantly decreased.

Another study found low magnesium levels in 95 percent of children with ADD. In a follow-up, researchers administered magnesium to half the children with ADD in their study. The group that received the magnesium showed improvement in their behavior. The others showed no change. Among the magnesium-rich foods are nuts, seeds, whole grains (including breads) and hard water.

Zinc is also important to the health of ADD children, and all of us. Most children diagnosed with ADD has proven positive for zinc deficiency.

You can do this test at home. You can have your child taste a liquid formula called Zinc Tally, and if she cannot taste it, she is a zinc deficit. The result is immediate.

Most zinc is concentrated in the brain membranes and acts like a soldier to guard the nerve cells against free-radical attack. However, it also serves as an electric contact for neurotransmission, helping convert serotonin into melatonin, which is the chief regulator of rhythms. Zinc is abundant in proteins, such as meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish.

Vitamins – Vitamin C plays a major role in the body’s healing process. It strengthens the blood vessel walls and fortifies them from invaders like cold germs and cancer cells.

The brain contains more vitamin C than any other organ in the body, with the exception of the adrenal gland. It is critical in the production of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, all considered major players in cognitive functioning and emotional stability.

Vitamin B6 enhances the effects of minerals and vitamins. It helps combat virtually every disease. It is one of the most studied vitamins, and a lack of it is believed to contribute to a wide range of health and mental problems. The most potent list of fruits that offer vitamin C are:

• Guava
• Kiwi
• Mango
• Orange
• Papaya
• Persimmon
• Rosehip

Children with ADD often have low levels of vitamin B6. When those levels are raised, their hyperactivity is reduced. B12 also increases energy, lessens anxiety, and boosts learning and concentration. It is an excellent treatment for children with ADD.

Foods high in vitamin B6 include fortified cereals, bananas, garbanzo beans, baked potato (skin and flesh), chicken breast (without skin), oatmeal (fortified) and pork loin (lean only). On a lower level, but still noteworthy for kids, are sunflower seeds, wheat bran, peanut butter and walnuts.

Sources of vitamin B12 include mostly high-protein foods, such as beef, fish, eggs, milk, soy cheese, rice cheese, tofu, fish, and beans.

Do whatever you can to ensure that your child gets what he/she needs. I am not a medical doctor and you should check with your doctor before starting any vitamin regimen for you or your child.

If you would like to know what dietary elements might be contributing to your child’s symptoms, it’s best if you fill out this audit for diet-related symptoms of ADD.

The nutritional approach to ADD is both a rewarding as well as a frustrating path.

It becomes rewarding when your child begins to understand that it is her responsibility to control her ADD symptoms through natural means.

Lifestyle is the most important feature of wellness.

However, children tend to grow up at different rates and their food requirements change as well, making meals an everyday challenge.

It is difficult to assess exact responses to nutritional components. It can never be a perfect calculation. However, we need to do as much as we can to enhance our child’s ability to function well and nutrition is a big piece of that.

Metabolism and ADD. If you can’t predict consequences, that should not discourage you from learning about what makes your child tick. This specific approach will do just that, and maybe that is the real treasure.