Cool Off the Burning Brain with Anti-Inflammatory Diet




What is the anti-inflammatory diet? It sounds more like a diet for grandma’s old arthritic hip. How does it help ADHD?

You are absolutely correct. It does help grandma’s arthritic hip by reducing inflammation. It also helps with other inflammatory illness such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, etc.

The anti-inflammatory diet as its name implies helps to reduce and fight against inflammation. It accomplishes the anti-inflammatory property by excluding foods that induce inflammations, while encourage intake of food that is neutral or support the body’s immune system to fight inflammation.

With inflammatory, we usually think of red, swollen and painful joint, which is the body’s immune system’s response to injury. So, in another word, inflammatory is good because our body is either fighting off an infection or trying to heal an injury.

However, the inflammation we’re talking about here is CHRONIC, which means the body’s immune system is constantly being activated for no reason.

This is not good for the body. You might think it’s a good idea because your body is being protected.

It is this overactive immune system that increases your risk of allergies because it is attacking anything that comes its way. It also weakens the immune response when the next big insult comes around. When the immune system is constantly doing things it’s not supposed to do, this takes resources away from its main tasks, such as detoxification, fighting infection, tissue healing, getting rid of cancer cells, etc.

SO, HOW DOES THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET HELP ADHD?

It is thought that ADHD is the result of chronic systemic inflammation of the body. This systemic inflammation affects the whole body including the brain resulting in functioning and communication error.

You might think how the brain is involved in all this. Think the last time you’re in pain. Were you able to focus? Remember the headaches you have, stomachache, someone stepped on your toe. Our whole body is connected, when one part is not well, our brain is not well too. But we can control or minimize the insult to the brain by following the principle of an anti-inflammatory diet.

WHAT CAUSES INFLAMMATION IN THE BODY?

1. Toxic metals in the environment

2. Pesticides, preservatives and toxic chemicals

3. Hidden food allergies, such as gluten (wheat), casein (milk), eggs, soy, corn and nuts. But wheat and milk are the biggest culprit.

4. Excess sugar and animal fats intake

5. Chronic stress.

FOODS TO INCLUDE:

  1. Fresh whole natural foods, preferably organic. Buy fresh fruits/vegetables from local farmer’s market. Because these produce does not have to travel long distance, last chemicals are used. Choose cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, onions, cabbage, and garlic. These are excellent sources of sulfur, which help boost the sulfation process in the body’s detoxification.

2. Choose low-fat lean protein as well as seafood, which are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acid, which has great anti-inflammatory property. Choose organic chicken, grass-fed beef, veal, lamb, buffalo, bison and other game meat because of their lack of antibiotics and hormones. Nuts, seeds and beans are also very good sources of protein. Include a variety of them as snacks or complement to salads and entrees.

3. Choose natural sugar, such as those that comes naturally with fruits or vegetables, honey, agave nectar, stevia, etc.

4. Use fresh spices and herbs to flavor your foods. Garlic, ginger and curcumin are excellent anti-inflammatory herbs to use.

5. Filtered water. Drink water only from BPA-free water bottles.

FOODS TO AVOID:

  1. Added sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup. These sugars are stripped of all nutrients during processing. It is basically empty calories. High fructose corn syrup is thought to be the culprit of the current obesity epidemic. It supposedly causes an addictive effect on its consumers, causing them to want to eat more of the food it is in.

2. Processed foods – anything that comes in a can or box and can last for years. These food are stripped bare of all nutrients, which are replaced with artificial flavorings, food coloring, preservatives, monosodium glutamate (MSG), etc. Frozen fruits and vegetables are fine as long as they are free of preservatives and processing.

3. Trans fats – found in many processed foods and margarine. These fats increased bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels in the blood. As a result, plague start building up in the artery creating a source of inflammation.

4. Grains and dairy products are the greatest culprit of hidden food allergies.

5. Fish with high mercury content, such as shark, mackerel and swordfish. Limit tuna to one 6-ounce can a week. Even better yet, choose canned wild-caught Alaskan salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acid instead for your “tuna” sandwich.

6. Artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame, Saccharin and acesulfame potassium. These are man-made sugar from the labs. The studies that show these artificial sweeteners are safe are done on adult subjects and sponsored by the manufacturers of these “sugars”. There are no “long-term” studies on both adults and children. Therefore, the long-term effects on children’s growth are “unknown”.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET AND LIFESTYLE

The anti-inflammatory diet is not just about foods. It is a lifestyle. You can’t completely treat the inflammation in your body just with foods, and induce the inflammation back with your lifestyle choices, such as chronic stress, lack of exercise, exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals.

1. Daily physical activities. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, ideally 60 minutes. Physical activities not only help with weight, it helps to clear your thoughts (especially negative ones), facilitate the circulation of the lymphatic system, the super highway of your immune system, and increase neurotransmitters, such as serotonin (your feel-good chemical).

Read: SPARK

2. Use environmentally friendly products. Avoid using Styrofoam, which released estrogen-like chemicals when in contact with heat or being heated. Avoid canned foods or juices or beverages, as the inner lining of the cans are lined with BPA to avoid corrosion of metal from contact with acidic contents.

3. Volunteer and give back to your community. The sense of giving and community boost dopamine levels in the brain. Remember, dopamine is the brain chemical that is found to be low in children with ADHD.

4. Learn relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, prayers, breathing exercise, etc. Focus on positive thoughts everyday. If need to, turn off the news channel.

Namaste…




SPARK




The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

In SPARK, John Ratey, MD embarks upon a fascinating journey through the mind-body connection, illustrating that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADHD to addiction to menopause to Alzheimer’s.

Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, that has put the local school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run.

Get started with SPARK now…





Meditation Increases Focus & Concentration in Children




You may look at meditation as a form of “mental exercise” that alters the level of consciousness of your by mind bringing your mind inward into your inner self.

Whatever that means…basically, it means shutting down the outside and stay inside, if you understand what I mean.

To me, being in a meditative state is like being in my own “Anna’s in the Wonderland”. You’ll kind of in between being awake and asleep.

It’s abstract…you have to try it to understand.

The practice of meditation has been around for over two thousand years, originating in countries in Southeast Asia. It has always been associated with religious rituals.

It is, in some ways, like prayers or religious chants, except that it has no religious boundaries. Anyone can practice this mental art form regardless of faith or belief.

The goal is to redirect one’s attention toward one’s inner self. It is a very spiritual and personal experience. It is a very unusual and mind-changing experience. Its experience is almost like a paradox – you’re supposed to not focus on anything, but the experience itself increases your awareness of your universe, which all of us are connected to. If you have not meditate before, I highly recommend that you try it.

I remember one time I was meditating after a group yoga lesson. It was only 10 minutes meditation at the end. My father has just passed away a few months early. All of the sudden I felt a very strong feeling that I missed my father, and felt this overwhelming sadness. Tears started pouring from my eyes and I just could not stop crying. It was a very strange feeling. It seemed like the meditating somehow allow my mind to finally relax and let the bottled emotions escaped.

It has many physiological benefits, and increasing focus and concentration is one of them. Thousands of researches and studies have shown the benefit of meditation and its effects on metabolism, blood pressure, brain activation, and other bodily processes. Scientists are interested in exploring its mechanism and benefits. However, after years of scientific studies we still have no knowledge of the exact mechanism of how the practice condones all these physiological benefits.

The most fascinating thing is that meditation can alter brain waves and brain activities. Now that we know our brain is capable of remodeling or rewiring itself throughout life.

It is a very calming and refreshing experience. Many description of meditation involves some kind of mental engagement that requires a lot of focus and concentration. And focus and concentration is what many children with ADHD are lacking. However, it does not mean meditation is impossible.

Start by looking at it as “quiet time”. Even if your child can’t sit with their eyes close for 5 minutes. Have them start by being quiet for 5 minutes, not making any noise or big movements. They can play with their stuffed animals, draw, or whatever they want. You can also play some soothing music in the background.

You can also do the “quiet time” right before bed. Snuggle with your child, read a story and kiss him or her good night. Then turn off the lights. Some children have difficulty falling asleep. Be firm and tell your child he or she has to stay in the dark room and not make noise. OK night light is allowed. Most children will eventually fall asleep.

 

Get Calm meditation app for FREE

Try Headspace meditation app 30-day FREE

 

If your child has difficulty with falling asleep at night, you might want to look into Epsom salt bath and/or melatonin at bedtime. Both of these can help children with ADHD to wind down and be ready for bed.

The Epsom salt bath can help calm the body, and the sulfate in Epsom salt helps to improve the body’s detoxification system. Melatonin is a natural sleeping aid. It is suspected that children with ADHD have a natural tendency to not produce enough melatonin at night, when they need it most to fall asleep.

When we first started trying meditation, my daughter did not like it. Just the thought of sitting down and doing nothing for 5 minutes sounds like torture to her. She was 10 years old, so it is still quite easy to persuade her to do it. She would set her own timer on her watch, which gives her some feeling of control. We try to do it everyday, but of course it’s hit or miss.

After meditating several times, my daughter did acknowledge some benefits, such as feeling calmness, refreshed, and increased alertness which helps to clear her mind for mentally-demanding tasks. Now she does not fight me as much if I ask her to meditate before she tackles her homework. Yet, 5 minutes is still what she is up for.

For starter, aim for five minutes or less, something that you know your child can easily handle. Be sure to make it fun, otherwise, they are not going to do it again. I used to snuggle with my daughter in her bed at bedtime, then I would let her put one of her favorite stuffed animal on her belly while she is lying on her back.

I would ask her to take deep breaths until she sees her stuffed animal rises and falls on her belly. This helps to teach her the breathing part of the practice. The trick is taking long deep breaths that fill up the belly. Slowly you can add the counting from 1-10 to make the breaths longer.




Stay Calm and Chill with Zinc




Zinc (chemical symbol Zn) is an important nutrient in the human body because of its role in many different cellular functions. It binds with a wide variety of molecular compound to form complexes, and participates in the metabolism of RNA and DNA, signal transduction, and gene expression. It also regulates cellular self-destruction. It is estimated that about 10% of human proteins are bound to zinc.

It helps with wound healing. It is also a very effective antimicrobial agent even at low concentrations. Zn supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of gastroenteritis by direct antimicrobial action on the gastrointestinal tract.

The human body has about 2-4 grams of Zn distributed in the brain, muscles, bones, kidneys, liver with majority of it in the prostate and eyes.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF Zn DEFICIENCY

Zinc deficiency may result in poor or loss of appetite, diarrhea, impaired immune function, poor or retardation of growth, delayed sexual maturation, eye or skin lesions, delayed wound healing, taste abnormalities, and mental lethargy. These signs and symptoms are not specific and maybe associated with other health conditions. Therefore, it is important to seek medical advice if your child is showing any of the above signs and symptoms.

Copper and Zn compete to be absorbed in the gut. Poor gut function or in the case of leaky gut, more copper is being absorbed, thus, limiting Zn absorption. This resulting Zn deficiency may limit the body’s ability to eliminate toxic metals, as Zn is a part of the metallothionenin detoxifies toxic metals in the body.

HOW DOES Zn WORK AS PART OF ADHD TREATMENT?

In a recent study, children treated with a daily dose of 40mg of Zn as Zn sulfate for 12 weeks showed significant improvement in scores on hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and impaired socialization scales than the children given placebo, while free fatty acids level increased as well.

In the brain, Zn is stored in the synaptic vesicles of the glutamatergic neurons, modulating brain excitability and synaptic plasticity, which means it helps with learning. However, Zn can also act as a neurotoxin. This conflicting role of Zn in the brain suggests zinc homeostasis is important in the function of the brain and central nervous system.

WHEN TO SUPPLEMENT?

It is difficult to assess Zn level in the body as most blood tests are inaccurate. However, if your child has frequent or chronic diarrhea, chances are he and she is losing Zn from the diarrhea. You might try a Zn supplement of up to 20mg per day. I have used Zn lozenges for my daughter, who is super picky and sensitive with taste and texture. The zinc lozenges provide about 20mg of Zn per tablet. This is a great start.

Besides replacing Zn loss during diarrhea, Zn also helps with improving appetite by stimulating the taste buds. This is quite interesting when I started giving my daughter the Zn lozenges. She loves it initially. It is lemon-flavored. But after couple of weeks, she started complaining of a metal flavor of the lozenges. So when the Zn level has improved, it shows by having a metallic flavor. So now we stopped giving her the Zn lozenges, and she appetite is still great.




Possible Causes of ADHD in Children Explored




THE CAUSES OF ADHD IN CHILDREN ARE NOT BLACK AND WHITE.

There are so many variables and interactions between every factors. It is very difficult to tease out the exact causes of ADHD. But one thing for sure is that there is no one simple solution to the treating ADHD. That is the reason why many children with ADHD do not response well to the medications. Most ADHD medications target only a few biochemical pathways to improve the symptoms. However, it does not completely remove the root cause of the problem, whatever it is.

A simple analogy to illustrate the idea of medication for ADHD is stepping on a piece of broken glass. You can take loads of pain killer to numb the pain on your foot, but as long as the piece of broken glass remains in your foot, the pain remains.

Same in the case of ADHD, you can try all kinds of ADHD medication. But if the root cause remains, and so will the symptoms. Unfortunately, the root cause of ADHD is not as clear-cut or obvious as the piece of broken glass. Some detective work is required in more cases along with some experimentation.

Children with ADHD are known to have nutrient deficiencies such as omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, zinc and selenium and others.

Premature or underdeveloped Prefrontal Cortex

I remember going to a parent orientation at my daughter’s school prior to start of the school year. And one of the topics discussed was that at 7th grade, children’s prefrontal cortex is still not fully matured. I found this really interesting. I completely did not expect to hear “prefrontal cortex” as a topic during a 7th grade parent orientation. Well, of course, this is one of the most prestigious school in Honolulu and dealing with demanding parents, the school has to be ready for the parents’ high expectations. The school is also very into child development.

At the same, I have to wonder are we, as a society, over-diagnosing ADHD without giving any considerations for the child’s natural personality.

The other day I saw a boy for his picky eating behaviors. According to parents, he prefers to eat only junk foods – chicken nuggets, pizzas, hot dogs, etc. Well, you got the idea. His parents also told me the child is recently diagnosed with ADHD. During the visit, dad raised his voice at the 5-year-old for him to sit still, and complaining that he did not take his medication this morning. To me, the child seems like a normal 5-year-old boy squirming in a chair. He did not get out of his chair during the 30-minute visit or run around the room like other children with ADHD that I’ve seen before. I feel sorry for the boy being scolded by the dad for just squirming in the chair, and being labeled as ADHD because he has super strict parents.

Related article: ADHD Brain

Environmental Toxins

Environmental toxins are everywhere. We live in a giant pool of pollution everyday. The air is filled with smoke, fog, smog. And if you live in Hawaii like me, you’ll also have “vog” (a special blend of volcanic smoke and fog). Just thinking of it takes my breath away (as in my asthma symptoms). Water contaminated with industrial waste and sewer. Food tinted with toxic preservatives, colorings, flavorings. If your child takes medications, that’s another form of chemical assault. This is tough enough environment for anyone with great detoxification and immune system. Children with autism, ADHD and other developmental disorders have a generally below par immunity and detoxification system. Thus, these environmental toxins affect them more than others.

Don’t forget these children are exposed to many toxic chemicals even before they take their first breath outside their mother’s protective bodies. In fact, one of the risk factor of ADHD is prenatal tobacco and pesticide exposure. Children born to mother who smokes or exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Don’t forget mercury and lead poisoning also increase chance of ADHD and other comordities. Buildings constructed before 1978 maybe contaminated with lead paints and pipes. Check with your local planning permit branch or check with your condominium association to find out more.

Food Allergy and Sensitivity

Children with ADHD frequently have hidden food allergy or intolerance. The reason why I use the word “hidden” is because these allergies or intolerances are difficult to identify. Most standard blood tests for allergy do not detect these. Symptoms of these hidden allergies do not show up right away. Days later when symptoms finally do show, it’s too late to figure out which food you’ve consumed had triggered the symptoms.

With some probing, investigation and mom’s instinct, you may be able to figure out a few culprit.

My daughter has always complained of stomachache, and frequently she’ll ask questions like “Mommy, what does it mean when your poopy is green?” Hmmm…She loves milk, but the most she’ll drink is 3 cups, that’s all. But I started to notice that every time she has 3 cups of milk, she’ll complain that she bottom hurts and burns. So I cut out milk from her diet. Of course, she is not happy about that. She loves eating Oreo cookies with milk. She would ask for cow’s milk after we took it out from her diet. Finally, she admits that her belly does not hurt as much as when she stopped drinking milk.

With milk out of the picture, she is still having stomachache despite taking probiotics diligently for years. My instinct tells me she is sensitive to gluten too, just like me. She loves noodles in any form and shapes, except rice noodle, the one that is the gluten-free. She’s not big sandwich person. I still have not remove gluten completely from her diet to see any changes. But I know it will.

Related article: Gluten and ADHD Connection

You see how the child with ADHD started with less than perfect detoxification system, sensitivity to food due to poor immunity, a premature prefrontal cortex that is not regulating well, and, of course, the not so bright nutritional status because of limited food choice. All the child needs is the environmental flip to tip things over, which manifests itself as hyperactivity, difficulty focusing, impulsiveness, learning disability. You name it.

The way I look at it is that everything we’re born with we cannot change. And just because you are born with disadvantage on your side, does not mean that is your destiny. There are still many things you can do to change your fate. There are ways to improve your child’s nutritional status, ways to improve immunity and detoxification, and avoid toxins as much as possible by choosing organic products. All you need is an open-minded and explore what works for your child. You are your child’s advocate, not your child’s teacher or your child’s pediatrician.

Related article: ADHD Symptoms or Something Else?




How Magnesium Calms the ADHD Brain




Magnesium (chemical symbol Mg) is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body. It is essential in the proper functioning of the muscular and nervous system.

Mg is well-known for relaxing the mind through its role in neurotransmitter synthesis, such as serotonin. Serotonin plays significant role is calming the mind and provoking a sense of well-being. Low level of serotonin is associated with depression, mood swings and irritability.

Some signs and symptoms of Mg deficiency includes sensitivity to loud noises, insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity, restlessness, panic attacks, salt craving, and both carbohydrate craving and carbohydrate intolerance.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Magnesium is needed to activate the enzyme, delta-6-desaturase, that converts dietary alpha-linolenic acids (ALA) into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the main components of brain cell membranes. It is suggested that children, especially boys, has a deficiency in delta-6-desaturase, which leads to DHA deficiency frequently seen in children with ADHD. Supplementing with Mg may help faciliate conversion from ALA to DHA by increasing activity of delta-6-desaturase.

Magnesium calms the nerves by interfering with the release of acetylcholine (an excitatory neurotransmitter)at the neuromuscular synaptic junctions.

Mg also interferes with the release of catecholamines from the adrenal medulla, thus, calming the nervous system. Psychological reactions and/or environmental stressors, such as excessive noises, intense light, etc may increase blood catecholamine levels. Catecholamines, such as norepinephrine and adrenaline, are neurotransmitters responsible for the fight-or-flight response, by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels, getting the body into an excited state.

Magnesium is needed for the production of myelin sheaths that insulate the nerve cells in the nervous system. The myelin sheaths act in a similar manner as the plastic casing on electrical wires. This protective layer prevents nerve impulses from misfiring, which can result in seizures.

Mg activates glutamine synthetase, which is responsible for the combination of glutamate with ammonia to yield glutamine. Glutamine synthetase is present predominantly in the brain, kidneys, and liver.

In the brain, glutamine synthetase participates in the metabolic regulation of glutamate, the removal of brain ammonia, uptake and release of neurotransmitters. In the brain where glutamate is used as a neurotransmitter, glutamine synthetase is not subject to the same regulatory system as in kidneys and liver. Brain glutamine synthetase is found mainly in astrocytes, which plays important roles in regulating neurotransmitters and synaptic transimissions, and ion concentration in nerve cells, and maintaining maintaining the blood-brain-barrier.

Mg deficiency is associated with the impulsiveness and hyperactivity in ADHD more so than the inattentiveness. Lack of Mg is related to muscle spasms and over-excitability. However, the combination of vitamin B6 and Mg complement each other to tackle both the hyperactivity and inattentiveness of ADHD.

Mg and vitamin B6 has a co-dependent relationship. While treatment with Mg is most effective when combined with vitamin B6, which boosts absorption of magnesium into the cells, Mg is required for the proper functioning of alkaline phosphatase, which facilitates the absorption of vitamin B6 into body tissues.

Vitamin B6 is required in both the synthesis of serotonin from tryptophan and activation of kynurenase that breaks down by-product of tryptophan metabolism. Both vitamin B6 and magnesium are essential for the enzyme kynurenase to breaks down kynurenine, a waste product of tryptophan in the kynurenine pathway. Deficiency in vitamin B6 may result in a suboptimal functioning of kynurinase, resulting in high levels of kynurenine, which are associated with disturbed balance of brain chemicals, such as serotonin, gama-aminobutyric acid (GABA). An imbalance of brain chemicals or neurotransmitters, especially gama-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and dopamine, is associated with behaviors seen in ADHD and other cor-morbid conditions.

FOOD SOURCES

Mg is plentiful in green vegetables, cereal, grain, nuts, legumes, and chocolate. Food processing and cooking may deplete magnesium content. Typical western diet composed of mainly processed foods, which obviously is not able to supply the needed Mg. Furthermore, the metabolic stress from the foods further put the body’s detoxification system in overdrive trying to rid the body of the harmful substances in processed foods.

A diet high in fat, phosphate and calcium may reduce Mg absorption.

SUPPLEMENTATION

Oral Mg supplements are available in various salt preparations. Multivitamins and minerals generally contain Mg oxide, which is less bulky and inexpensive to manufacture. However, it is not soluble in water, which means it is poorly absorbed by the body. Mg hydroxide in milk of magnesia is another example of insoluble Mg salt.

Magnesium aspartate, chloride, lactate, citrate and glycinate are more soluble, thus, easily absorbed in the intestines. Magnesium taurinate, glycinate or elemental Mg is the preferred form that is less likely to cause diarrhea.

SUGGESTED DAILY DOSING

The typical dose for children is 200 mg of Mg and 10 to 20 mg of vitamin B6.

Age 3 years and under: 40-80mg

Age 4-6 years: 120mg

Age 7-10 years: 170mg

Adolescent and adult male: 270-400mg

Adolescent and adult female 280-300mg




Vitamin B6 and ADHD




Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and one of the vitamin B’s that make up the complex. It is found in one of three naturally occurring forms – pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine, and three respective 5′-phosphate esters. Pyridoxal 5′ phosphate (PLP) and pyridoxamine 5′ phosphate (PMP) are the active coenzyme forms of B6 that participate in amino acids metabolism.

Inside the body, the naturally occurring glycosylated forms of B6 in fruits and vegetables have to be converted by the liver to the active form the body needs. People with impaired liver function, celiac disease, older adults, and children with autism and/or ADHD have decreased ability in converting vitamin B6 into its active forms. Therefore, supplementing B6 in its active form is more appropriate and readily available for use by the body.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

PLP is necessary for the conversion of DOPA into dopamine, a neurotransmitter, and conversion of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, to GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It is also involved in the decarboxylation of SAM to propylamine.

ADHD is believed to be the result of decreased dopamine activity. Low dopamine level in the frontal lobes is associated with decline in cognitive functions, such as memory, attention and problem-solving skills, while deficient of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex is associated with attention deficit disorder.

Related article: ADHD Brain

Dopamine plays a major role in the brain system that is responsible for reward-driven learning, and inhibition control. Every type of reward that has been studied increases the level of dopamine transmission in the brain, and a variety of highly addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system. This is the same mechanism that caffeine works.

The other mechanism that B6 helps with ADHD symptoms is its use in combination with magnesium. Magnesium and vitamin B6 has a co-dependent relationship. While B6 boosts absorption of magnesium into the cells, magnesium is needed for the proper functioning of alkaline phosphatase, which helps the absorption of B6 into body tissues.

Signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency includes sensitivity to loud noises, insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity, restlessness, panic attacks, salt craving, and both carbohydrate craving and carbohydrate intolerance. Children with ADHD are believed to have lower levels of magnesium inside their blood cells. Since B6 helps improve blood cell level of magnesium, supplementing magnesium along with B6 will help with ADHD symptoms.

SUPPLEMENTATION

A study of young children with average age 6-7 years old showed improvement in behaviors, such as inattention, aggressiveness and hyperactivity with treatment with magnesium and B6. The amounts used were 6 mg/kg/day magnesium and 0.6mg/kg/day B6 – roughly 100-200 mg of magnesium and around 10-20 mg of B6.

Children with ADHD and/or autism have lower conversion rates to PLP, the active form of vitamin B6. Therefore, supplementing with PLP is more appropriate and readily available for use by the body.




Vitamin B12 and ADHD Brain




Vitamin B12 (B12) is a water-soluble vitamin with key role in facilitating normal functioning of the brain, nervous system, and formation of blood cells. It is involves in DNA synthesis and regulation, and also fatty acid synthesis and energy production.

There are several forms of vitamin B12 – cyanocobalamin is the synthetic form, and methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are the physiological or active form. Cyanocobalamin does not occur in nature. It is commonly found in supplements due to its stability and cheaper cost of manufacturing. Theoretically, cyanocobalamine is readily converted to the active forms, methylcobalamine and/or adenosylcobalamin in the body.

VITAMIN B12 AND ADHD

B12 helps with ADHD symptoms through it’s involvement in many of the brain functions, especially in the production and maintenance of the myelin sheath (the protective coating on nerve cells), essential fatty acid metabolism and energy production.

B12 is involved in the synthesis and integrity of the myelin sheath that covers all nerve cells. Think of the plastic casing on electrical wires. These myelin sheath serve the same purpose. Vitamin B12 is the cofactor for the enzymes, L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase and methionine synthase.

L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase needs adenosylcobalamin to convert L-methylmalonyl-CoA (MMA) to succinyl-CoA. If this reaction is not working well, too much MMA will result. Too much MMA will make the myelin sheath unstable or not effective in doing its job. The extra MMA may also be added in place of fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acid, into myelin sheath. This will result in fragile myelin sheath that is not able to support normal brain functions. The precise mechanism(s) are not fully understood at this time.

B12 also affects in the myelin formation process in another way. Methylcobalamin is a cofactor of methionine synthase, which catalyzes the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. Our body can also obtain methionine through diet. Our body needs methionine to make S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe), which is needed for methylation of myelin sheath phospholipids. Methylation is the transfer of the “methyl” group. Methycobalamin provides the methyl group for the transfer. That is how methylcobalamin is involved here. Although our body does not need B12 to make SAMe, methionine synthase helps to provide additional methionine to boost SAMe production. SAMe is also involved in the production of certain neurotransmitters and catecholamines, which help with mood.

BODY STORES

Vitamin B12 deficiency is rare because the liver can store several years’ worth of B12. However, deficiency does happen. Certain medical conditions and/or medication may interfere with absorption or increased it’s metabolism in the body. The total amount of B12 stored in body is bout 2–5 mg in adults. Around 50% of this is stored in the liver.

SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY

Deficiency is usually the result of poor intestinal absorption due to GI surgeries and/or GI disorders, or inadequate dietary intake, such as vegetarian or vegan diet, which restrict animal products. Occasionally, certain medication may increase its metabolism in the body.

Signs and symptoms include weakness or fatigue, light-headedness, rapid heartbeat and breathing, pale skin, sore tongue, easy bruising or bleeding such as bleeding gums, stomachache, weight loss, and diarrhea or constipation.

B12 deficiency may result in megaloblastic anemia, which is due to an defective red blood cell production. The resultant red blood cells are larger than normal, which make is difficult to transport nutrients due to size constraint.

Other signs and symptoms are tingling or numbness in fingers and toes, difficulty walking, mood changes or depression, memory loss, disorientation, and dementia, which are results of nerves damages from vitamin B12 deficiency.

FOOD SOURCES

Neither plants nor animals can produce B12. Only bacteria have the enzymes required for its synthesis. Animals are good sources of B12 is because of the bacteria living in the intestines, which makes the vitamin.

Vitamin B12 is found in any foods that come from animals, such as fish and shellfish, meat (especially liver, where the vitamin is stored), poultry, eggs, dairy products. The body absorbs B12 from animal sources better. Plant foods are not considered to be reliable sources of B12.

Vegans, people who do not eat any animal products including eggs and dairy, are more likely to develop B12 deficiency because of their restrictive diets. Ovo-lacto-vegetarians usually consume enough B12 through eggs and dairy products. Vegans obtain their B12 from dietary supplements and/or fortified foods, such as fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy products, fortified energy bars, and Brewer’s yeast.

SUPPLEMENTATION

Cyanocobalamin is the most common form of B12 found in supplements. It contains about 2% of cyanide or 20 micrograms cyanide in a 1 mg cyanocobalamin tab. This amount may seem minute. However, children with ADHD, as you have read so far, have an inefficient detoxification system. Even minute amount of cyanide may accumulate over time, causing neural damages.

One of the functions of B12 is methyl donation. Supplementation with cyanocobalamin would not serve this purpose. In fact it would need donation of methyl group in the body to be converted to the active form.

Sublingual and spray methylcobalamin are supposedly much easier to absorb because these routes bypass the intestines, which can be an issue for people with GI problems. Besides methylcobalamin is the active form, which means the body can put it to use right away without any further conversion. Besides, children with ADHD just seem to have very different metabolic requirements.

Methylcobalamin supplements are usually more expensive and available mainly in health food stores. Despite the cost and probably a little extra drive for some, it is still a better choice not only because it is the active, but it is also a “cleaner” form. The methylcobalamin supplement you find in health food stores usually are free of additives, preservatives, artificial colorings, artificial sweeteners, etc. So you are definitely paying for quality for your money.

DOSING

General recommendation of B12 is between 0.4 to 2.4 mcg (micro-grams) daily depending on age. Generally, for the purpose of treating ADHD, you may start with 1,000 mcg. Toxicity is rare since Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, which means our body can easily get rid of the extra.

Couple years ago, I developed tingling sensation on my hands and feet after some medication adjustment. After doing some research, I discovered that the tingling is related to B vitamins deficiency. I started with B-complex, then later added B12. The tingling disappeared, but I was not falling asleep at night. Then I realized it’s the high dose of B12 I was taking at night. That’s what keeping me up at night. And that’s also when I realized the power of B12 vitamin. It does give you an energy boost, but without the hyper feeling of caffeine.

Now I take a 2,500mcg B12 vitamin tablet in the morning. While I started taking the B12 vitamin, I also noticed that I am less irritable and anxious.

My daughter takes a 1,000mcg tablet daily before school to help her focus. She also takes 1.5mg melatonin at night to help with her sleep. Interestingly, after taking the melatonin, she told me that her brain feels clearer and she can organize her thoughts better.

Get your high potency methylcobalamin here…




Phosphatidylcholine for ADHD

 

What is Phosphatidylcholine?

That’s a mouthful. It sounds like something fancy. But it’s not. It’s actually pretty common.

Most of us who are not vegan or vegetarian ingest about 3 to 6 grams of lecithin a day. The term lecithin and phosphatidylcholine are used interchangeably because phosphatidylcholine makes up most of lecithin. Choline is another component of lecithin. Choline is a component of phosphatidylcholine, which is a component of lecithin.

Phosphatidylcholine and Brain function

Phosphatidylcholine makes up a big part of cell membranes. In order to make phosphatidylcholine, our body also needs docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), uridine, and choline. The reason why there is such an interest in phoshpatidylcholine is because the body uses it to make acetylcholine, a brain chemical involves in memory, and phosphatidylcholine is shown to be able to increase acetylcholine level. PC is thought to benefit brain conditions, such as memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, manic-depressive disorders, and a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia.

 

Phosphatidylcholine for memory

 

Unfortunately, the current research findings do not consistently support the role of phosphatidylcholine in helping with cognitive function, and that supplementation with PC does not seem to result in any dramatic effects on mental cognitive abilities. The benefit on brain function from taking lecithin or PC supplements is only minimal.

As mentioned earlier, a typical person consumes about 3 to 6 grams of lecithin a day, which means the risk of phosphatidylcholine deficiency is low. However, because each human being are unique genetically, there are always a few person who are difficulty biochemically in making adequate amounts of phosphatidylcholine from scratch. Certainly, these individuals would benefit from PC supplementation.

Don’t give up yet…

I have a colleague who swears that phosphatidylcholine works wonders on his 2 year old son, who was diagnosed with autism. I know, I know. He’s too young to be diagnosed with autism. But he does have all the signs – speech delay, SUPER intelligent. I know this boy’s developmental pediatrician. This boy knows the difference between trapezium and rhombus at a tender age of 1 year old. According to dad, he recognizes most of the alphabet (English alphabets) and sight-read a couple words.

Anyway, my colleague told me since starting PC, his son is able to communicate more and able to recognize kids of his age and interact with them. However, the oral aversion is still a problem. Did I mention this child is also on the gluten-free casein-free diet?

My point here is studies only tell you what’s most likely to happen to the general population. Until you try it out yourself, you’ll never know if you’re the responding group or the non-responding group.

Phosphatidylcholine supplementation is also recommended in the book “What’s Eating Your Child?: The Hidden Connection Between Food and Childhood Ailments” by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND for sensory processing disorder and speech apraxia.

Supplementation

Start with getting PC from food sources first. Try eggs, soy, and meats. Vegetables, fruits and grains contain very little lecithin. If you plan to take the supplement instead, stay with a lower dose for your child, something like three grams a day or less

Other Uses of PC

Phosphatidylcholine is also used for treating hepatitis, eczema, gallbladder disease, circulation problems, high cholesterol, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS); for improving the effectiveness of kidney dialysis; for boosting the immune system; and for preventing aging.

Get this high quality phosphatidylcholine. It’s not just lecithin.

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids for ADHD




Fish oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), while flaxseed oil and algal oil are excellent sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is the precursor to DHA and EPA. ALA is an essential fatty acid, which means our body cannot produce this fatty acid.

Our body has limited ability to convert ALA to DHA and EPA. This is even more so in children with ADHD. In fact, studies have shown that many children with ADHD have very low blood levels of omega 3 fatty acids. This deficiency is associated with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, apraxia, depression and anxiety. In recent years, researches and studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids supplementation improves ADHD symptoms, such as hyperactivity, inattentiveness, aggressions, anxiety, impulsiveness, and learning difficulties. Males, in particular, have a harder time converting ALA to DHA and EPA than females.

Furthermore, the typical American diet, which is excessive in omega 6 and deficit in omega 3 fatty acids, makes the situation even worse. The optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 4:1. The typical American diet provides a ratio of 20:1. That means, children will need to increase their dietary omega 3 intake by 5 times to get to the optimal 4:1 ratio.

 

Both DHA and EPA play important roles in the brain development. DHA has a structural role and EPA has a functional role in the brain development. EPA affects hormone metabolism, dopamine (neurotransmitter that regulates mood) metabolism and immune systems. DHA is the major structural component of nerve cells. DHA is also a major component of the retina in the eye.

As the brain develops more nerve cells, more fat, in the form of fatty acids, is needed. Omega 3 fatty acids make up about 8-10 percent of brain tissues. It is the major components of myelin sheaths on nerve cells. Myelin is the fatty coating on nerve cells. The myelin sheaths insulate nerve cells (imagine electrical wiring) to ensure smooth uninterrupted transmission of impulses, preventing misfiring of nerve impulses. The rapid myelination during early childhood is what helps brain develops.

Because of this special needs in infants and young children, fat should not be restricted. Infants and children up to 2 years old should maintain a diet of up to 50% of calories coming from fat.

Healthy fats, such as avocado, safflower oil, olive oil, organic animal fats, organic eggs, coconut oil, and organic nut oils are encouraged. Organic oils/fats are preferred because pesticides, hormones and other chemicals tend to accumulate in fatty tissues in animals and/or plants. The organic choices will help to minimize intake of these substances, which can affect brain developments and health.

Both fish oil and cod liver oil contains the omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. But cod liver oil has a higher EPA content, and it also contains vitamin A and vitamin D, which help boost immunity to fight infection.

Fish oil is better choice for children struggling with dyslexia and attentiveness for its higher DHA content. Cod liver oil would be a better choice for children with autism, frequent infection, mood swings and/or depression.

Fish oil and its components have been studied extensively. Its safety record is outstanding. In fact, it is even included in most infant formula nowadays, and recommended to pregnant and lactating women to help with the baby’s visual and brain development.

omega3-essential fatty acids

 

The fish oil and cod liver oil below are 2 that I’d recommend as both provide beneficial amount of DHA and EPA in one serving. The Dr. Tobias’ brand needs only 2 pills a day and the Pipping Rock needs only 1 tsp (5ml) a day to get the right amount of DHA and EPA. Please don’t buy fish oil “gummies”. I have so many parents proclaim proudly that they give their children fish oil gummies, but was shock when I told them they have to increase to 10-15 gummies a day to get the beneficial 500mg of DHA. So don’t waste your money on “gummies”.