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Could the Food Your Child Is Eating Contribute to ADHD?

June 27, 2013

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The number of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has increased dramatically in recent years. Though it is now the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children, the exact cause of ADHD is unknown. It could be a combination of genetics and environmental conditions, but it has been suggested that diet can contribute to the symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, several common food additives, found particularly in foods marketed to children, can contribute to or exacerbate ADHD symptoms such as excessive activity and inability to concentrate. A few key additives to avoid include:

Red No. 40 – The most commonly used food additive used in the US today, Red No. 40 is used to color food and is found in many sugary cereals, packed desserts, some yogurt, and candy.

Blue No. 1 and Blue No. 2 –  Food coloring found in many sugary cereals, candy, soda and in some Jell-O and Pop Tart flavors.

Red No. 3 – Another food coloring found in some chewing gum, cake icing and candy.

Sodium Benzoate – A food preservative found in several fruit juices, carbonated beverages, and pickled foods.

Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6 – Both commonly used food colorings used in packaged products such as Eggo waffles and Gatorade.

A great rule of thumb is to read the ingredient list of all packaged products before purchasing them for your children or better yet, avoid packaged foods altogether. In addition to cutting back on these food additives in your child’s diet, there are also several nutrients that you can start to add into their diet that have been show to lessen the symptoms of ADHD.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids – This essential fatty acid can be found in fish like salmon or in flax seeds and nuts. It helps the brain to send and receive information effectively, and many children with ADHD are deficient in essential fatty acids.  Check out 5 omega-3 rich foods to get your daily dose.

Protein – Protein is an excellent source of energy not just for adults, but for children, too. Giving you child small servings of protein throughout the day can help to even out their energy and keep their blood sugar level steady.

Vitamin B complex – Most Americans, children included, are deficient in Vitamin B. Try to add this nutrient into your child’s diet to help lessen stress and improve focus. Foods high in Vitamin B are whole grains, leafy greens, eggs and nuts.

Do you have a child diagnosed with ADHD? Are their any foods that you find work best to reduce ADHD symptoms?