I wanted to share this post that I wrote just under a year ago about my son. He had been struggling in his first few weeks of Kindergarten and as a former teacher, I feared that he would have to be held back. An update, he passed Kindergarten but still needs improvement. I should know how he is adjusting to life in 1st grade in a few weeks and can’t wait to write about it for you all to see his progression and to share how we’ve adjusted his daily supplement regimen!
Original Post: November 12, 2015
I just don’t even know how to say this without my heart just bursting.
If you’ve been following me from the fall, Shaklee and the CEO and Chairman, Roger Barnett, challenged each of us to a 100 Days to Amazing challenge. (Read Forbes’ interview with Roger Barnett to learn more about his commitment to doing the right thing.) Well, this 100 Days to Amazing Challenge has taught me more than I could ever imagined. I just want to share with you something that truly has touched my heart, it is very personal but if it could help one other family out there, than I want to share it.
One of my children has been struggling this year in Kindergarten, to the point that I even started chatting with the teacher about holding him back next year. The teacher acknowledged my concerns but assured me we wouldn’t have to think of that just yet as it was just 8 weeks in to the year. During her assessments, he was tested and only knew 4 letters of the alphabet and only knew 2 letter sounds. His teachers discussed concern about his ability to stay focused and to comprehend basic questions that were asked of him during class discussion time. As a former teacher, I too had also noticed some difficulty in his ability to stay focused & on task. We have worked on a lot of different behavioral changes with more structure and LOTS of repetition. This seemed to help but I knew I could do more so I decided to get him on a more strict supplement plan after doing some research through peer reviewed journal studies on children who struggle with these same issues.
Fast forward to now, just a month after our parent/teacher conference. I went to the school like every other afternoon to pick up my boys and his teacher came out to talk to me. (She never comes out to talk to me.) She told me that she reassessed him and he now knows 23 letters out of the alphabet, 23 letter sounds AND she said that she’s noticed that he’s actually answering comprehension questions SPOT ON!!! Those were her exact words, “spot on!” She was amazed with his progress and asked what we had been doing at home that was new. I told her how we watch an alphabet video that she suggested, we work on our sight words but then I said, “I know this may sound a little nutty, but I’ve done a lot of research and found adding in extra protein and omega 3’s and 6’s help students who struggle with focus and attention so I’ve added it to his diet every day.” She said she was so impressed with my son’s growth in such a short amount of time!!
I can’t even put in to words how much this means to me. As a Mom, sometimes I think I’m being a little “crazy” or “nutty” or “exaggerating the situation”, but this. This right here. This is proof to show me that what I am doing is “spot on”, just like the teacher said of my son’s progress. What I’m doing IS helping. What I am doing isn’t crazy or nutty or over the top. What others think is excessive, clearly isn’t, it works and thankfully I have a teaching background and Shaklee to thank for it.
If your child struggles with some of these issues, I highly recommend you start a good routine at home to help build their foundation and really give them a stable start on how to learn through their struggles. Work with the teachers on different educations activities you can implement at home to help support their learning in the classroom. I also suggest adding in some vitamins/minerals to help support their body’s development. Supplements alone can help, yes, but helping the WHOLE is best. You can’t expect to only put gasoline in a car and make it run smoothly, you have to make sure all the moving parts are in place too. I posted an article below the photo with links to various articles to show the science behind the supplements I give my son.
Our daily regimen:
– 1 scoop Life shake in milk (extra protein)
– 2 Incredivites (daily multivitamin for kids)
– 1 Chewable VitC (extra immunity boost during school season)
– 1 GLA (omega 6 fatty acids, it’s listed to help women but it’s beneficial for anyone)
– 1 OmegaGuard (omega 3 fatty acids, we use this instead of the children’s chewables because of the higher DHA/EPA content)
– 1 scoop Life Shake in milk
– 2 Chewable CalMag (30 min before bed, helps aid in restful sleep)
*Our son was never diagnosed with ADD/ADHD by a medical professional. I put him on this regimen of structure in the home & school and supplements to support the signs that I have seen in his behavior as well as other family members and various teachers & speech therapists. If you believe your child should be diagnosed, please see your health care professional.
**I have an updated supplement list that will be coming after his first conference this year in 1st grade
Post from Dr. Fuhrman:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurobehavioral disorder diagnosed in children, and its prevalence is growing. Between 2003 and 2007, there was a 22% increase in ADHD prevalence in the United States — today, about 9.5% of school-age children have ADHD.1
ADHD is characterized by restlessness, difficulty focusing, poor impulse control, distractibility, and in some cases overactivity; plus these symptoms have significant negative consequences on the child’s academic performance, social skills, and relationships with family members, teachers, and peers. In addition, ADHD is often accompanied by learning disorders, discipline problems, anxiety, and/or depression.2
ADHD is a complex disorder of the brain that is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 3, 4 Smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy, micronutrient deficiencies, excessive television watching early in life, and inadequate omega-3 fatty acid as well as omega-6 fatty acid intake are a few of the environmental factors that increase risk.3, 5
Nutrition and ADHD
Poor nutrition is a significant concern for attentional problems and ADHD — here are some of the dietary factors that have been linked to ADHD risk in scientific studies:
- High sugar intake is associated with hyperactive behavior and ADHD.6, 7
- Inadequate micronutrient intake. Supplementation to correct micronutrient deficiencies has been shown to improve ADHD symptoms.2, 8
- A low-nutrient diet high in processed foods and soft drinks at age 4 ½ has been associated with hyperactivity in children at age 7.9 Similarly, a “western” dietary pattern has also been associated with ADHD in 14-year-olds.10
- Food additives and dyes: many colored foods are marketed to children, and hyperactivity in children following ingestion of food dyes is well documented in placebo-controlled studies.6, 11 Furthermore, a 2004 meta-analysis of 16 studies in children who were already hyperactive showed that their hyperactive behavior increased after ingesting food colorings.12
- There is preliminary evidence that certain pesticides (called organophosphates) commonly found on some fruits are associated with ADHD.13
- Omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA) are the building blocks a child needs to build a healthy brain. Insufficient omega-3 levels are common in children with ADHD, and there is evidence that omega-3 supplementation, especially in combination with the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA; found in borage oil and evening primrose oil) improves behavior and ADHD symptoms. 14, 15
Treatment for most children with ADHD: stimulant drugs
The primary mode of treatment for ADHD is a combination of stimulant drugs and behavioral treatment. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 2.7 million children in the U.S. are currently taking medication for ADHD.1 There is concern about these drugs because of side effects (the two most common are insomnia and loss of appetite) and the potential for abuse, since stimulants such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) and amphetamines have actions on the brain similar to cocaine.6 Also evidence has recently emerged that these stimulants may adversely affect the cardiovascular system — long-term stimulant use increases heart rate, and elevated heart rate increases the risk of cardiac death. 9, 16, 17
Natural Prevention and Treatment of ADHD
As a parent, these are effective strategies that will help your children:
- Limit television time and do not expose children under the age of 2 to any television. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two should not watch television.5
- Feed the whole family a health-promoting, high-nutrient diet of colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
- Encourage sports and other forms of exercise. Physical activity has beneficial effects on brain function, and several studies have reported that exercise improves attention, behavior and/or impulse control in children with ADHD.18-22
- Avoid processed foods, artificially colored foods, and added sugars. The simplest and most effective way to avoid the potential harmful effects of synthetic dyes is to avoid processed foods. When buying the occasional packaged food, check the ingredient list to avoid synthetic dyes and additives.
- To assure adequate omega-3 fatty acids for brain development, give children a DHA supplement and feed them omega-3-rich foods (ground flaxseed, hemp and chia seeds, walnuts) regularly.
- Buy organic produce when possible to limit pesticide exposure, especially when buying highly pesticide-laden crops.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, a family commitment to dietary changes is crucial. My nutritional approach to ADHD used in conjunction with appropriate behavioral treatment has helped many families. Although it may take up to 6 months, significant improvements are almost always observed, and stimulant medications are rarely necessary.
- Feed the whole family a health-promoting, high-nutrient diet of colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
- For adequate omega-3 fatty acids:
- DHA + EPA, at least 400 mg per day
- 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed daily
- Minimum 1 ounce raw walnuts daily, plus other raw nuts
- Little or no oils
- Supplemental GLA (60-100 mg per day; an omega-6 fatty acid found in borage oil and evening primrose oil. Taking double the recommended dose every other day is also reasonable and effective)
- Gluten (from wheat) and/or casein (from dairy products) avoidance for children who are sensitive to these proteins.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Rate of Parent-Reported ADHD Increasing [http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/features/adhd-parent-reporting.html]
2. Kidd PM: Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children: rationale for its integrative management. Altern Med Rev 2000;5:402-428.
3. Curatolo P, D’Agati E, Moavero R: The neurobiological basis of ADHD. Ital J Pediatr 2010;36:79.
4. Antshel KM, Hargrave TM, Simonescu M, et al: Advances in understanding and treating ADHD. BMC medicine 2011;9:72.
5. Christakis DA, Zimmerman FJ, DiGiuseppe DL, et al: Early television exposure and subsequent attentional problems in children. Pediatrics 2004;113:708-713.
6. Artificial food colouring and hyperactivity symptoms in children. Prescrire Int 2009;18:215.
7. Schnoll R, Burshteyn D, Cea-Aravena J: Nutrition in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a neglected but important aspect. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 2003;28:63-75.
8. Curtis LT, Patel K: Nutritional and environmental approaches to preventing and treating autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a review. J Altern Complement Med 2008;14:79-85.
9. Wiles NJ, Northstone K, Emmett P, et al: ‘Junk food’ diet and childhood behavioural problems: results from the ALSPAC cohort. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009;63:491-498.
10. Howard AL, Robinson M, Smith GJ, et al: ADHD is associated with a “Western” dietary pattern in adolescents. J Atten Disord 2011;15:403-411.
11. Schab DW, Trinh NH: Do artificial food colors promote hyperactivity in children with hyperactive syndromes? A meta-analysis of double-blind placebo-controlled trials. J Dev Behav Pediatr 2004;25:423-434.
12. McCann D, Barrett A, Cooper A, et al: Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet 2007;370:1560-1567.
13. Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, et al: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. Pediatrics 2010;125:e1270-1277.
14. Antalis CJ, Stevens LJ, Campbell M, et al: Omega-3 fatty acid status in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2006;75:299-308.
15. Transler C, Eilander A, Mitchell S, et al: The impact of polyunsaturated fatty acids in reducing child attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. J Atten Disord 2010;14:232-246.
16. Vitiello B, Elliott GR, Swanson JM, et al: Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Over 10 Years in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children With ADHD. Am J Psychiatry 2011.
17. Verrier RL, Tan A: Heart rate, autonomic markers, and cardiac mortality. Heart Rhythm 2009;6:S68-75.
18. Medina JA, Netto TL, Muszkat M, et al: Exercise impact on sustained attention of ADHD children, methylphenidate effects. Atten Defic Hyperact Disord 2010;2:49-58.
19. Gapin JI, Labban JD, Etnier JL: The effects of physical activity on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms: the evidence. Prev Med 2011;52 Suppl 1:S70-74.
20. Archer T, Kostrzewa RM: Physical exercise alleviates ADHD symptoms: regional deficits and development trajectory. Neurotox Res 2012;21:195-209.
21. Berwid OG, Halperin JM: Emerging support for a role of exercise in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder intervention planning. Curr Psychiatry Rep 2012;14:543-551.
22. Lenz TL: A Pharmacological/Physiological Comparison between ADHD Medications and Exercise. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 2012;6:306-308.