Recently, I ran a hair tissue mineral analysis test on all 4 of my boys. My younger two both display signs of AD/HD and I knew I need to help bolster their nutrition to support them, but needed some direction. When I got my youngest son’s hair test back, I was somewhat shocked but also relieved by his results.
For the past two years, he was having tremendous difficulty adjusting to school, so much so that we ended up getting an IEP last year 2/3 of the way through his first grade year. He was so upset, stressed, anxious, angry and volatile that I knew basic healthy eating and avoidance of food intolerances was not enough. His hair analysis revealed plenty of information to help me realize why he had been struggling so much.
One key indicator was his extremely low magnesium level. Another key ratio indication was his sky high sodium and potassium, along with his thyroid and adrenal ratios. He was extremely hyperactive both in the thyroid and adrenal ratios so much so it was alarming for me to see on paper. Thankfully, I was able to see some hard evidence and move forward with a plan.
Today, I’m here to share the begin of our journey balancing his biochemistry through the use of a simple, non-invasive hair test and nutritional protocol specifically for him. Let’s first discuss a little bit more about what ADD and ADHD are.
Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are basically the same thing, some present with hyperactivity and some do not. ADD is not new in the medical literature, it has been around now for some time, dating back to the early 1900’s. There are certain core symptoms that can be common in ADD & AD/HD such as:
- short attention span for regular, routine tasks
- distractibility, difficulty focusing on one thing
- organizational problems (both space and time)
- difficulty with follow through, struggle to follow instructions
- become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
- poor internal supervision
- daydream, become easily confused and move slowly
- hyperactivity-impulsivity (AD/HD)
- talk endlessly (AD/HD)
- difficulty doing quiet activities or tasks (AD/HD)
- in constant motion (AD/HD)
- fidget, squirm, trouble sitting still (AD/HD)
AD/HD is not necessarily something people outgrow. It’s said that about half the people who have it in childhood, will still have symptoms in adulthood. Why? Often the underlying cause is never truly addressed. AD/HD is not a minor problem by any means, it can affect a person’s life in many negative ways, including; not finishing school, resorting to drugs, committing felonies, relationship issues/divorce and more.
For much more in depth information on AD/HD and all the different types/categories, please refer to the book; ‘Healing ADD’ by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
There are many facets of health to look at when dealing with AD/HD. I won’t be able to go into great length and detail in this post. However, I will share some of the most common contributing factors; sugar overload, heavy metals, adrenal stress and mineral imbalance and essential fatty acid deficiencies. In most cases, testing for heavy metals and detoxing, testing the adrenals via a hair tissue mineral analysis, and rebuilding fatty acid balance along with completely avoiding refined or excess sugars and bad fats will be imperative.
One of the great travesties of medicine is that instead of focusing on strategies to help the frontal cortex develop, or to support it, doctors prescribe children stimulant meds. We now understand that children with ADHD have delays in the development of their frontal cortex. Keep in mind, the frontal lobe or cortex of the brain is the largest lobe in the brain, located directly behind your forehead. When the frontal cortex is not properly developed, it can lead to behavioral issues that the child (or adult) cannot necessarily control. If the frontal cortex is healthy one has the ability to reason and suppress inappropriate impulses. Adults will also struggle with impulse control. The frontal lobe drives emotional desire, motivation, planning and it’s impairment leads to the inability to follow through with work plans/projects and much more. Often these people are considered ‘lazy’. The frontal cortex is also responsible for fine motor skills, such as handwriting. People with sloppy, poorly formed letters/handwriting should consider supporting the frontal cortex.
Zinc can act as a calming neurotransmitter – often kids with AD/HD have low zinc and simply helping to increase the body levels of zinc can make a big difference. Zinc also seems to help activate the frontal lobe of the brain. Balancing copper and zinc in the body will go a long way towards brain and emotional health in AD/HD kids.
There’s more that could be said about that aspect of health, but the key strategies I’m using have to do with diet and balancing nutrients through supplementation.
Diet, Food Allergies, Leaky Gut & ADD/ADHD
I’ve discussed what a properly prepared nutrient dense diet looks like many times over throughout this site. It can remove the majority of the problem foods for someone with AD/HD, like sugar, refined foods, food additives, dyes, preservatives, even gluten and bad fats.
However, when a basic real food diet is not enough and the symptoms of AD/HD are still there, it is important to consider eliminating any hidden food allergies. Taking on an elimination diet would be key in helping to recover from AD/HD symptoms. Many mental conditions are linked to a leaky gut (increased permeability), so it will be important to heal the gut lining while working on an elimination diet.
In Doris Rapp’s book; ‘Is This Your Child?’, she shares the connection between children with attention issues, such as hyperactivity, and typically having common allergies. She suggests these children have what is called allergic tension fatigue syndrome which can manifest as headaches, muscle aches, clumsiness, irritability, aggression, and “impossible” behavior. Some children may experience periods of extreme fatigue that alternates with uncontrollable hyperactivity. These children are often thought to have AD/HD. It’s imperative to consider food allergies if this is the case for your child. Especially if they present with the following symptoms in this table, taken from the book; ‘Is This Your Child?’ by Doris Rapp;
- Hyperactive, uncontrollably wild, unrestrained
- Fatigued, weak, weary, exhausted, listless
- Nonstop talk, repetition, loud talk, stuttering
- Inattentive, disruptive, impulsive
- Short attention span, unable to concentrate
- Restless legs, finger tapping
- Clumsy, poor coordination, tremor
- Insomnia, nightmares, inability to fall asleep and wake up
- Nervous, irritable, upset, short-tempered, moody
- High-strung, excitable, agitated
- Depressed, easily moved to tears, temperamental
- Oversensitive to odor, light, sound, pain and cold
Gluten is a must-eliminate-food. Gluten affects the brain like an opiate. My recommendation would be to remove it immediately and read up on it so you are equipped to remain gluten free for life. Testing may be necessary, however most testing is very inaccurate because out of the 12 different fractions of gliadin (protein in wheat/gluten), the only one usually tested for is alpha-gliadin. This is not even to get accurate results. Be sure to use the best testing out there -either Cyrex Labs (namely Array #4) and EnteroLab’s proprietary stool antigen test. If you can’t get appropriate testing or afford it, by all means eliminate gluten anyway. Dr. Kharrazian suggests testing for glutenin, deamidated gluten in addition to just the basic gliadin testing that is most common. He believes that a test should screen for an immune reaction to the alpha, omega, and gamma branches of gliadin as well as glutenin and deamidated gluten.
Of course food allergies may not be the only issue, but they are a good one to look into and resolve and can take some time and effort to work through while additionally healing the gut.
Those with AD/HD will need to avoid the following things:
- Sugar, fruit and refined grains -this raises the blood sugar, stresses the adrenal glands, feeds yeast, increases dysbiosis and causes a myriad of health problems. All sweets need to be avoided.
- Chemical Additives -the average American consumes 10 pounds of food additives each year. This stresses the liver and the immune system.
- Hydrogenated Oils and Fried Foods – these oils increase and promote inflammation as well as cardiovascular disease, while additionally decreasing one’s immunity and their hormonal health. They also affect the nerves and brain function.
- Repetitive Eating Patterns – foods eaten on a daily basis are the ones that are most likely to develop sensitivities to. Rotation diets helps to minimize the potential stress of this to the immune system and help avoid those hidden food allergies. Eliminate the most common allergens such as; wheat, grains, dairy, corn, soy, citrus, chocolate, coffee and soda.
- Processed/Packaged Foods – these foods are stripped of their nutrients and offer no real nutrition, therefore creating nutritional deficiencies and diminishing health and vitality
Vitamins and Minerals
Levels of many nutrients/vitamins are consistently found to be low in children with ADD, such as magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, and B-complex vitamins. Supplemental zinc has been seen to improve behavior and cognitive learning in kids with ADD. However, it’s always best to determine the mineral balance through a hair test to properly determine supplementation of minerals.
Any neurological or behavioral disorder is a red flag for B12 deficiency. This could be the case due to poor diet, but also due to an inherited issue with B12 metabolism. Sublingual B12 supplements are recommended, such as MethylCobalamin. A hair test can help us determine if one needs extra methylcoblamin as well as if they are a poor eliminator or happen to have other possible issues adding to liver detoxification in general.
Minerals – Magnesium, Calcium and Zinc
AD/HD is associated with magnesium deficiency as well. Magnesium is responsible for balancing blood sugar, and since issues with hypoglycemia are a concern for those with AD/HD it makes sense to supplement with magnesium. Remember the brain becomes extremely vulnerable to excitotoxins during episodes of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia and the brain uses more blood sugar than any other part of the body. Magnesium will go a long way to supporting this stress on the body, along with learning how to manage diet effectively. Stress also depletes magnesium and low blood sugar is a big stress on the body, not to much all the other stressers in our lives in this modern day. Magnesium is also very relaxing to the body and is supportive to hyperactivity.
Most kids with symptoms of AD/HD tend to be fast oxidizers that run low on calcium, magnesium and zinc. These are all sedative minerals. All 3 were low on my son’s hair test, magnesium was particularly low at 1.8 when the normal level is 6. His calcium was 22, normal is 42 and zinc was 8 when normal is 20. These three low minerals alone are enough to cause him to be hyper-irritable, anxious and easily upset. In a sense, it’s like he has no ‘psychological buffering ability’ without adequate levels of these minerals. I would tell his teachers, he didn’t have the ability to switch the OFF switch, off.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Keep in mind, if heavy metal toxicity does indeed play a part in contributing to one’s ADD/ADHD, one of the best preventatives would be healthy mineral supplementation determined for the individual through a hair test. It can take several years to correct issues with heavy metal toxicity – sometimes they are present at birth as they are passed on congenitally.
In Christian’s case his test showed elevated arsenic, this poses a whole host of other issues. Though he also had a low copper reading making copper currently biounavailable, also a possible reason for the aggressive behavior and ADHD tendencies. Copper is a complex issue – everyone has some level of zinc and copper imbalance today.
While there is far more to consider based on his test results than just the ADHD and behavior issues, these were the most troublesome symptoms for him concerning the struggles he has dealt with in school.
Getting Christian’s hair test results back has given me direction, clarity, hope and peace. I’ve since implemented diet changes, schedule changes, added supplements and found ways to help him rest more. I also feel I have WAY more compassion on him as an individual and have been able to express his health issues more clearly to his teachers and to my extended family. I was able to see results quickly and know that he will only improve more and more as we continue to support his body based on a clearer understanding of his nutritional needs. What a huge sigh of relief – all mommas deserve to feel this way for their kiddos!
If you are a momma with a hyperactive little guy like I’ve got, I highly recommend getting a hair analysis consult for him as soon as you can. Simply click on the banner below to get started!
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