Each September I like to remind parents of specific nutrients that support Natural Approaches for Optimal Learning and Behavior. These nutrients benefit all children, however those of special need benefit even more
Blogger’s Note: I have worked with families of special needs children for over 10 years, it’s an area I feel especially passionate about and it’s a pleasure when parents and child take health on without the use of drugs.
Increasingly, research supports the connection between good nutrition and optimum brain functions such as mood, learning and behavior. Based on information compiled by Gemma Gorham , M.P.H., written and commented on by my mentor Barbara Lagoni , the following is a summary of some of the nutrients and herbs suggested to provide support by supplementing. With any child’s often “less-than-ideal” diet specific supplementation can address the additional nutritional needs of children with ADD and learning challenges.
A Good Multi-Vitamin - To give good nutritional foundation to the brain and nervous system and to the whole child, a good program should always begin with a good multi-vitamin/mineral … This one is the very best and comes in a chewable and powdered formula.
Friendly Bacteria - Our advanced colon care system contains Bifidus and Acidophilus, essential friendly bacteria that ideally live in our lower intestines. These good bacteria help prevent over growth of bad bacteria and candida yeast – often associated with attention deficit disorder. Extremely helpful for children with food allergies and sensitivities.
B-Complex - Essential for the brain and nervous system, B Vitamins are often lacking in children’s diets; depleted when metabolizing sugar,caffeine, alcohol and “junk food” snacks (any food that provides more calories than nutrients). B’s help with mood swings, stress, cravings, blood sugar bouncing, hyperactivity and irritability. Highly active children may need more.
Calcium and Magnesium - These 2 essential minerals are often referred to as natural nerve tranquilizers and muscle relaxants. Pediatric Allergist Dr. Doris Rapp and other authorities feel many learning and behavioral problems are related to allergies and brain sensitivities. Therefore, many recommend limiting milk and dairy products as well as artificial dyes, flavorings, preservatives, etc. Calcium helps with hyperactivity, twitches, tremors and teeth grinding. Reduces noise sensitivity, edginess and jumpiness. Improves attention span and ability to concentrate. Reduces muscle cramps (including growing pains), spasms, insomnia and bedwetting. Reduces frequency and duration of headaches.
Lecithin - This fat emulsifier derived from soy contains phospholipids contains acetylcholine, essential for neurotransmitters in the brain…helpful for improving memory and concentration and short-term memory.
Essential Fatty Acids - ( EFAs ) Help reduce hyperactivity, hormonal imbalances, and behavioral disturbances. Recent research has shown that individuals diagnosed with ADD are unable to convert essential fatty acids into GLA (Omega-6), EPA (Omega-3) and DHA; supplementation can make a world of difference. Many people diagnosed with ADD also have EFA deficiencies which further aggravate ADD symptoms; deficiency symptoms include excessive thirst; insatiable appetite; dry, flaking skin; bumps on the upper, outer arms, thighs or checks; eczema; nails with longitudinal lines; dry hair; dandruff and excessive or hard ear wax. Supplementation with EPA has been shown to improve both visual processing and motor coordination in children with dyslexia and dyspraxia. Recent research has shown that just as many ADD children derive benefit from EFA supplementation as do from Ritalin – without the side effects. Ask me for my Essential Fatty Acids Information sheet. We now carry a chewable fish oil product.
Ginkgo Biloba- This multi – dimensional herbal product contains Ginkgo biloba and complementary herbs that together help improve blood flow to the brain… as well as improving circulation throughout the body. Improves memory, concentration and coordination; helpful in alleviating depression, headaches and tinnitus.
Zinc - In addition to its reputation for improving our immune systems, it also helps reduce the severity of allergic reactions. Zinc is a key enzyme component for proper assimilation of nutrients, helps regulate blood sugar and improves brain function. Zinc is depleted during stress and is commonly deficient, along with Essential Fatty Acids, in children with ADD.
Valerian - is an herb that is considered a nerve calmative and is often used as a sleep aid. Helps relieve muscle tension, twitches and tremors; reduces intestinal cramping. Prevents insomnia and promotes restful sleep. Decreases anxiety and helps alleviate stress. Helps prevent and reduce migraine and tension headaches. Frequently used with children during the day to reduce hyperactivity.
Vitamin E- our product contains Vitamin E, selenium and grapeseed extract . Grapeseed extract contains proanthocyanidins compounds that have recently been shown to be extremely helpful in improving brain activities. This has recently been reported to be extremely beneficial for children with ADD and learning challenges.
Children, in general, and those with ADD and learning challenges, in particular, are more sensitive to environmental toxins than adults. Minimizing environmental exposure is another important approach.