Behavior Problems in Children: An ADHD child who has attention and behavior problems in school often has additional health problems. Most of these problems are often undiagnosed. Does your child have attention and behavior problems? Before beginning any type of drug therapy program, the first thing you should do is take a serious look at your child’s diet. You may find that your child’s attention and behavior problems can improve with better nutrition. Certain foods are good for brain development. Your child may be lacking in the nutrients needed to help their brains function well.
Was Your Child Diagnosed as ADD or ADHD?
In many cases children with ADD or ADHD struggle with symptoms even after medicated. Studies show that food allergies or sensitivities can cause hyperactivity in children. In many cases it can also be the cause of neurological dysfunction. ADHD children with attention difficulties, hyperactivity, irritability, and other behavior problems can improve when problem foods are eliminated. Once the ADHD child begins a proper diet and supplement program they will show improvements in their ability to pay attention and to study for tests.
Correcting nutrient imbalances in the brain of children with attention and behavior problems is vital for a successful outcome. Inappropriate levels of specific vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids will contribute to behavior issues.
ADHD children with attention and behavior problems should take vitamin and mineral supplements as ADHD treatment. Certain vitamins are water soluble and therefore safe to give. But not all vitamins are water soluble, and there are certainly many side effects to overdosing on supplements that the body stores. Vitamins and minerals are needed for normal production of neurotransmitters. Children that are chronically lacking specific nutrients will begin to develop chronic symptoms of hyperactivity. Any deficiency will have wide ranging effects.
In general, B vitamins improve attention and behavior problems. They help with activity and agility, as do fish oil.
Magnesium helps to calm and is also important for absorption. Magnesium is generally lacking in our modern diets and unfortunately, most supplements you can buy in the stores. Magnesium works with Calcium and Zinc. These three minerals must be balanced for the body to function well. When the diet is high in calcium the body is further depleted of magnesium as the two have an antagonistic relationship. Too much calcium, called hypercalcemia, can affect every major organ in the body. Hypercalcemia effects the kidneys, heart, GI tract, nervous system, and cognitive abilities. Too little magnesium can cause a whole host of problems including: migraines, muscular twitches, insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity, and restlessness with constant movement, etc.
Anyone desiring to begin a vitamin supplement program should do so with the help of a qualified physician. A physician or nutritionist can test for deficiencies to lessen the risk of overdose.
Many doctors diagnosing ADHD use drugs as their only treatment option. Parents need to understand that there are physicians who will also look for underlying causes and test for vitamin and nutrient deficiencies too. This is the kind of treatment parents should seek after receiving an ADHD diagnosis. Parents can also try an elimination diet without allergy testing to see if there are also certain foods triggering their son or daughter’s symptoms.
Attention and Behavior Problems are often caused by Hidden Food Allergies to:
- wheat (gluten)
In addition, kids with attention and behavior problems need to eliminate all food colorings, artificial flavors and preservatives. According to a study published by Dr. Jim Stevenson in the September 2007 issue of the Lancet entitled: “Food additives and hyperactive behavior in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community,” artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives make ALL kids hyper. Total elimination of these things, and any other suspect foods should be done for at least three weeks before an improvement can be noted. It takes the body quite some time to eliminate toxins that have been present in abundance. Once the child’s behavior/ ability to attend has begun to improve, reintroduction of foods can begin. When a relapse occurs, note the food eaten and the time it took for the reaction to occur. Some food sensitivities may not appear until hours after eating.
What’s the Bottom Line on Treating Attention and Behavior Problems?
In short, almost always, the solution we seek is not going to be found in a magic pill. In many cases the drugs prescribed for ADHD and ADD come with many possible side effects. In some cases, although they may help a child in the short term, there are long term side effects from ADHD medication. There is also evidence to support the idea that too many kids are being improperly medicated for ADHD.
For these reasons you should investigate alternative treatments for your child’s attention and behavior problems. There is a good chance your child may see success by just changing what he or she eats. As natural treatments for ADHD, vitamin and mineral supplements and a healthy organic diet can do wonders. Check out our page on the best foods to include in an ADHD diet for kids entitled: Natural Treatments for ADHD: Use These Healthy Organic Foods.