Today, I wanna share with you some really interesting news about ADHD children and nutrient deficiencies.
Recently, at a conference in Hawaii, a paper was presented that demonstrated that children diagnosed with ADHD have lower levels of three very important nutrients:
Now, this replicates previous studies that have shown that these kids do have nutrient deficiencies.
Interestingly, this study was looking at the dietary habits of these kids and trying to correlate some things. Most people think that ADHD children eat a lot of junk food and that's why they're like the way they are.
Well, it's obviously more complex than that.
What this study found out is that 40% of the kids consumed less than the recommended levels of meat and meat alternatives.
Now, what this means is that all the micronutrients--or the small things---that are in these foods,-- these kids didn't have. We're not talking about sugar and carbohydrates. What we're talking about is these kids were not eating enough protein.
One of the things that I do when I'm traveling around the country teaching other doctors about the brain and neurotransmitters, is explain that if someone is malnourished, they're not gonna make neurotransmitters very well.
If you've been reading about ADHD for a while then you know that dopamine is like the big thing that everybody thinks of when they think of Attention Deficit Disorder. Rightly so, dopamine is obviously an important factor.
But, if you look at the physiology behind how neurotransmitters are made in the first place-– most neurotransmitters depend on adequate intake of protein.
So...it makes sense to me that in this paper, they found that this group of ADHD kids (diagnosed with that label, ADHD, and you know how I feel about labels...grrr) – these kids were not eating much protein. They didn't even have the basic building blocks to even make the neurotransmitters.
Now, in terms of specific minerals...
it's been known that many ADHD kids are low in zinc.
Well, this study found that problem again. But it's also the first study to demonstrate they have low copper.
Also, as a side note..... they kinda buried in here that a majority of the kids had serum ferritin levels of less than 50 micrograms per milliliter. Now, ferritin is basically a measure of how much iron your body has. Now, for me, when we talk about iron supplementation...25 is pretty low, 50 is really not that much higher. So what they're saying in this study is that these kids that they studied, had three problems: zinc, copper, and iron.
Now, I wanna read you some just real specific numbers...
They found that 77% of the kids had below laboratory normal. 76% of the kids had cutoffs below zinc deficiency. Serum copper lows were below laboratory for 23% of the kids. That's a large number of kids.
Now, before you rush out and go buy zinc and copper and iron---don't do that.
You need to have someone evaluate your child first. Do a thorough, functional metabolic evaluation. (Really, I don't expect your GP or your medical doctor to really know how to do that functional metabolic evaluation. That's a topic for another day.)I would encourage you to find someone that can do a functional evaluation---meaning, looking for these ranges that aren't necessarily totally off the bottom end of the lab range. Because lab reference ranges-- a lot of them are kinda jokey because they're really just based on a bell-curve. You remember those from school? You take out the highs and lows, and everything in between is normal. Well, that's kind of a ridiculous definition for a normal lab range.
What I want you to walk away with is this--- those minerals are co-factors for manufacture of neurotransmitters. They must be present in order for your child to make serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, melatonin.
These are things if you Google around – I don't really wish you would do that---, but if you Google around, you'll see that those things are all related to kids that have these ADHD symptoms. But just supplementing with those things is not the key.
All ADHD children, every one of them, have both a neurological problem and a metabolic problem.
It's deciding and sussing out which one is which, and how much of a problem – which way does the teeter-totter swing--- that's important in getting the kid the best, long-term results.
The other thing that I want you to take away that you can do right now is....
...your child needs to eat.
Most of these kids are just plain protein deficient. If you correct the protein deficiency, this alone could have a huge impact on their brain function.
So, copper, zinc and iron; extremely important. I'm not surprised by that. I see it all the time in the kids I work with. But don't rush out and start supplementing your kid. Find someone who can do this type of thorough metabolic and neurological evaluation. A doctor who can get the right blood tests and know how to interpret them from a Functional perspective...and put together a comprehesve plan.
You can do something simple right now, helping your child eat more protein.
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Dr. David Clark
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist