Vitamin D and Behaviors

Vitamin D and Autism

New research is showing that up to 75% of children on the autism spectrum show significant improvement with high dose Vitamin D supplementation.

Vitamin D levels are very often significantly lower in children with autism and ADHD.

Vitamin D has many vital roles in our body, including enhancing intestinal absorption of other critical nutrients such as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphate and Zinc. Vitamin D is also very involved with immune function and regulating the inflammatory response within the body.

Vitamin D deficiency has been proven to play a role in many conditions such as autoimmune and behavioral disorders.

Unfortunately, very few foods contain Vitamin D. It is pretty limited to Wild Caught fish (salmon), mushrooms and some shellfish as well as fortified milk. Most of our Vitamin D supply is meant to come from the sun.

Recommended intakes for infants and children vary from 400IU to 1000IU per day depending on specific needs of the child.

However, higher doses are many times warranted for certain conditions and when deficiency is known.

Serum (blood) Vitamin D levels are very important to know prior to supplementing and should be checked again after about 6 months of supplementing. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for the 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. According to research, ideally levels should be at least 45ng/ml.

Reports and research shows that there appears to be better cognition, focus, and eye contact in autism spectrum disorders and ADHD as vitamin D levels are normalized.




Mohommad, R,, The Relationship between Serum Vitamin D Level and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Iran J Child Neurol. 2015 Autumn; 9(4): 48–53.
Cannell, J, Vitamin D and Autism, What’s New? Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2017 Feb 20.

Nutrient Deficiencies are typically the Root Cause of Behaviors. Get the list of Most Needed Supplements for Behavioral Conditions!

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MTHFR- What You Need To Know

Methylation deficiencies and a defect in MTHFR are linked to many conditions/symptoms, including:


Frequent miscarriages


Hashimoto’s or Hypothyroidism

Delayed Speech


Bipolar or manic depression

Heart disease


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Autoimmune Conditions


MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrafolate-reductase) is a much needed enzyme in the body. It’s required for processing methylation and converting folic acid/folate in to an active form that the body can use. MTHFR is needed for many functions of the body including: repairing DNA, switching genes off and on, processing chemicals, hormones, building the immune system, producing energy and maintaining cells.

Not to be confused with the enzyme, the MTHFR gene provides the instructions for making that MTHFR enzyme—therefore, “triggering” the production of the enzyme. A mutation in the MTHFR gene may therefore affect enzyme function.
MTHFR gene mutations are thought to affect up to about 60% of the population.

Researchers suspect there may be at least 30 different types of this gene mutation with C677T and A1298C being the most studied and tested of these mutations. {This number and letter sequence refers to what is known as a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP (pronounced “snip”).}

Having a gene with a mutation does not mean that the gene is defective or nonfunctioning, only that it is working with an altered efficiency.

Although mutations can occur at any time during our lifetime, it is most likely that we are born with these mutations and will have them throughout our life.

This may provide an explanation as to why certain traits or diseases "run in the family".

Although we cannot change our genetic code, we can change how our genes are expressed.

Research has determined that our gene expression is not only distinguished by hereditary factors, but it is also influenced by our diet, nutritional status, toxic load and environmental influences or stressors. This phenomenon has been termed "epigenetics".

MTHFR dramatically affects Homocysteine- an amino acid linked to a wide range of health problems, and is an independent risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease. It is naturally formed in the body, but gets broken down by L-methylfolate (active folate). Due to MTHFR restricting active folate, homocysteine is significantly affected by this gene mutation.

MTHFR mutations don’t directly make you unwell.

Rather, they may cause an exaggerated response to poor diet or environmental factors that others can “get away with”.

If you lack vitamins and minerals as result of a poor diet, digestion or absorption, it limits the body’s ability to have proper methylation.


Because these nutrients are needed to help make the most active form of folate in your body known as methylfolate. There are several of the B vitamins that require activation before they are useful to the body.

This is why dietary considerations are so important for certain MTHFR mutations.

For instance, when people with an MTHFR genetic mutation are exposed to certain environmental factors (chemicals, food, poor air quality, vaccines, medications, etc), they have a harder time getting rid of them, which can cause immune dysfunction leading to many chronic conditions.

One of the ways the MTHFR gene mutation can make you susceptible to certain conditions is by lowering the body’s ability to make glutathione. People with MTHFR irregularities typically have low glutathione, which makes them more susceptible to stress and less tolerant to toxic exposures.

As the saying goes, “Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.”




Shawna Kunselman, MSACN



Bjelland I, Tell GS, Vollset SE, Refsum H, Ueland PM. Folate, vitamin
B12, homocysteine, and the MTHFR 677CT polymorphism in anxiety
and depression: the Hordaland Homocysteine Study, Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2003;60:618-626

Boris, M., MD,, Association of MTHFR Gene Variants with Autism, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 9 Number 4 Winter 2004

Rosenblatt D. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase., Clinic of Investigative Medicine 2001;24:56-59

Rooibos tea, nutrition, health

5 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Roobios Tea

As published on Zhou Nutrition

Rooibos tea is beginning to gain popularity and for good reason. It is a from a shrub native to South Africa and is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.

Additionally, rooibos is high in mineral content which can aid in metabolic processes and maintaining a healthy nervous and immune system. Rooibos has been shown over and over to provide healing benefits to many ailments.

We all know that green tea is amazing, but did you know that Rooibos actually contains 50% more antioxidants than green tea?

Here are some of the beneficial nutrients this tea has to offer:

Iron– needed for oxygen transport, muscle function and energy production

Calcium-needed for bone health, blood clotting and muscle contraction

Potassium– needed for energy metabolism and heart health

Copper– needed for hormone and neurotransmitter metabolism and antioxidant protection

Manganese-needed for carbohydrate and protein metabolism as well as bone production

Zinc-needed for more than 200 enzyme functions in the body including immune and cell protection

Magnesium– needed for heart, muscle bone and nervous system health

Quercetin-potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory


Take a look at a few ailments Rooibos has been shown to improve:

1. Infant Health

Rooibos has been shown to be very soothing to the colicky baby. While the exact mechanism of why this is so soothing for a baby’s tummy troubles, the anti-inflammatory properties are thought to be the reason.

2. Cardiovascular Health

Due to the Quercetin (which is a powerful anti-inflammatory), Rooibos has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) while raising HDL (the good stuff). It has also been shown to lower blood pressure and increase overall cardiovascular health.

3. Improvements and Possibly Aid in Prevention of Diabetes

Studies with Rooibos tea have shown promise in having “significant therapeutic potential” with diabetes.

4. Prevents Against Some Cancers

Due to the high antioxidant properties of Rooibos tea, studies have shown a link between the anti-mutagenic (anti-cancer) effects of this tea and growth of some types of cancer cells.

5. Restful Sleep

Rooibos is completely caffeine free! Because of this and it’s high mineral content, it can help create calm and relaxation, helping you to sleep better.


Remember to always speak with your healthcare provider prior to taking any herbal supplements if under treatment for any condition. Rooibos, though very safe in most individuals, has been shown to interfere with some chemotherapy/cancer treatments.



• Son, MJ,, Aspalathin improves hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance in obese diabetic ob/ob mice., Eur J Nutr. 2013 Sep;52(6):1607-19
• Waisundara VY, Hoon, LY., Free radical scavenging ability of Aspalathus linearis in two in vitro models of diabetes and cancer., J Tradit Complement Med. 2015 Jan 20;5(3):174-8
• Shaik, YB,, Role of quercetin (a natural herbal compound) in allergy and inflammation, J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2006 Jul-Dec;20(3-4):47-52.
• Sissing, L,, Modulating effects of rooibos and honeybush herbal teas on the development of esophageal papillomas in rats, Nutr Cancer. 2011;63(4):600-10

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donuts, gluten

What Are Food Sensitivities & How Do They Contribute To Children’s Behaviors?

Most people are very aware of the effects of common food allergies. People may suffer from hives, difficulty breathing, sneezing, runny nose, or itching.

Very commonly overlooked, however, are food sensitivities (commonly referred to as “hidden food allergies”) which can contribute to many different health conditions as well.

If someone has a sensitivity to a specific food, an IgG (Immunoglobulin G) response occurs in the body. This is different from the IgE response which occurs in an “allergy”. The IgE response activates an immediate release of histamine. However, with the IgG immune response there is still a reaction happening which activates cytokines (immune response chemicals) in the body, though this is very commonly a delayed response and does not have the antigen-antibody response that the IgE reaction does.

This response can happen hours or even up to 7 days later. These cytokines can inflame the gut, the brain, or even respiratory tract and can affect how you or your child feels emotionally and physically.

Some common symptoms seen with the effects of food sensitivities in children are:

• Inconsistent performance: he or she will know the material one day but not the next.
• Poor memory
• Struggles with focusing and attention.
• Sensory processing problems: things such as noises, tags, foods, and transitions bother this child
• Irritability
• Hyperactivity
• Frequent meltdowns

Additionally, the child may have frequent infections, constant allergies, or digestive issues.
The best way to determine if someone has a food sensitivity is by an elimination diet, which consists of eliminating the foods which are most commonly contributors. A typical elimination diet lasts approximately 3 weeks in which the foods are slowly added back in to see if a reaction occurs.

Specific blood work can also be looked at to determine an IgG response to foods.

The most common food contributors to causing a food sensitivity in the body are:

• Dairy
• Eggs
• Gluten – Protein in Wheat, Rye, Oats and Barley
• Sugar (Especially if your child has candida, a yeast overgrowth which can effect behavior, common in children with neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD and Autism.)
• Shellfish
• Soy
• Food Dyes, Preservatives, Pesticides, GMO’s (Genetically Modified Foods)


Contact  me with any questions or for more information.




Lord, Richard, Bralley, J., Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicines, 2nd edition, Metametrix Institute, 2012, pgs. 433-436

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ocean , magnesium

Magnesium: Why is it so important?

Love this picture I took of the ocean off the coast of California last summer—did you know Magnesium is found abundantly in sea water—along with many other minerals which is one reason swimming the ocean is so healing –don’t drink it though 😉

Magnesium is required in the body for over 350 biochemical reactions! That makes this mineral quite critical in many different ailments and conditions.

Unfortunately, 80% of us are deficient in magnesium! There is tons of research showing how important it is to not only eat magnesium rich foods, but also probably supplement with this mineral to lessen your risk of becoming deficient.

Lack of magnesium may lead to irritability, muscle weakness, and irregular heartbeat. Every organ in the body — especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys — needs the mineral magnesium. It is also important in the synthesis of teeth and bones. Most important, it activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate calcium levels as well as copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body.

Low dietary intake of magnesium is common and can quickly lead to deficiency.

Periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy and childhood adolescents also increase need of magnesium.

Use of certain medications can deplete magnesium from the body and increase need of supplementation. Some examples of medications which may contribute to increasing your magnesium needs are diuretics (thiazides, furosemide), chemotherapy, cortisone, laxatives and PPI’s (Nexium, prevacid).

Those with diabetes or anyone with intestinal hyperpemiabilty (leaky gut) are also at an increased risk of deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency in children is characterized by excessive fidgeting, anxiety, restlessness, psychomotor instability and learning difficulties.

Some common signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:

• Muscle cramps and spasms
• Personality changes: depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating
• Irregular heartbeat
• Increased blood triglycerides and cholesterol
• Water retention
• Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
• Anxiety
• Insomnia

Magnesium will help:

• relax nerve impulses and muscle contractions
• promote relaxation; aid in restful sleep
• help lower blood pressure
• keep your bones strong (especially when taken with calcium)
• keep your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol
• relieve symptoms of menopause and PMS
• help the body absorb calcium and potassium

Diet: The best food sources of magnesium are sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, broccoli, okra, almonds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, spinach, long grain brown rice, chives and cocoa. For example, spinach (1 cup) and pumpkin seeds (1 ounce) will provide about 157 mg.; long grain brown rice (1 cup) provides 84 mg.

These are the current RDAs for magnesium depending on your age and gender according to the NIH:

• Infants–6 months: 30 mg
• 7–12 months: 75 mg
• 1–3 years: 80 mg
• 4–8 years: 130 mg
• 9–13 years: 240 mg
• 14–18 years: 410 mg for men; 360 mg for women
• 19–30 years: 400 mg for men; 310 mg for women
• Adults 31 years and older: 420 mg for men; 320 mg for women
• Pregnant women: 350-360 mg
• Women who are breastfeeding: 310-320 mg

TYPE OF MAGNESIUM: Magnesium citrate, oxide, glycinate, and sulfate. For constipation, people use magnesium citrate, however, if citrate tends to upset your stomach, glycinate may be a better form taken internally.
Epsom salt baths are an excellent way to absorb magnesium in the form of magnesium sulfate without digestive upset.




National Institute of Health, Magnesium,
Block, Mary Ann, DO, No More ADHD, Block System Inc, 2001
Rakel, Integrative Medicine 3rd edition

sugar cubes, sugar

5 Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

As published on Zhou Nutrition

The average American consumes up to 22 teaspoons of sugar daily!

Many times, children are getting even more sugar than adults. In fact, it is estimated that children between ages of 9-18 may be getting 34 teaspoons of sugar daily!

Added sugar is one of the worst additives to foods today. We all know about “sugar highs” and the short term effects sugar can have on a child’s behavior, but there are many problems associated with excessive sugar intake over time as well.

Sugar is a top contributor to many chronic diseases and has harmful effects on the body’s metabolism. It leads to insulin resistance which is a stepping stone to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Long term consumption can even lead to a condition known as Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease.

A 2011 study published in “Postgraduate Medicine” found correlations between excessive sugar intake and behaviors associated with ADHD. The reason may be related to a disruption of chemicals in the brain affecting the reward –related areas of the brain. Sugar can come in many forms added to foods such as fructose, dextrose, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

As sugar proves to be very addictive, removing sugar from our diets and the diets of our children can seem a bit out of reach.

Here Are 5 Simple Ways to Reduce Sugar!

Leave the Sugary Drinks Behind!

A 16 ounce Frappuccino can have up to 69 grams of sugar! Fruit juices and sports drinks are not any better and are loaded with sugar. Flavored water is the way to go. Try adding mint leaves, cucumber slices, or orange slices to your water. Mix it up and play around with it. Let the kids pick out the type of fruit they want to add to their water. If needed, add a few drops of stevia (however, stay away from artificial sweeteners) while your taste buds adjust to the change. Herbal teas are another great choice of beverage throughout the day.

Avoid Processed Foods to Nix Hidden Sugars!

A package of oatmeal can easily have 15 g of sugar in one serving. Skip the package and make your own from rolled oats, which contains 0 g of sugar. Toss the morning breakfast cereals and go for homemade oats instead. Added sugar can even show up in seemingly healthy foods such as whole wheat bagels, so be sure to check labels. Switch out the sugary processed treats with whole fruit to satisfy a sweet craving!


While yogurt seems like a great option for a snack, most yogurts are filled with sugar. Try to opt for non-flavored coconut yogurt with added berries or raisins.

Buy “Unsweetened” Varieties

If buying applesauce, almond milk, nut butters or canned fruit, stick to the unsweetened. This will save you loads of sugar. Keep in mind that you can switch unsweetened applesauce for sugar in many different baking recipes. Also, be wary of dried fruits. Many manufacturers add sugar and syrups. Be sure to check the ingredient list.

Cook at Home

Cooking at home ensures that you know what is in your food so you can avoid unwanted additives such as sugar. Openly discussing the foods we eat and the reasons we eat them can also go a long way for yourself and for children. Children don’t have an understanding of why we shouldn’t eat certain foods, but talking about the benefits of healthy foods can encourage them to eat healthier. Get the kids to help in the kitchen to increase their desire to try new and healthy foods. This helps serve as a great reminder for you to nix the sugar as well!

Johnson, Richard J., Mark S. Gold, David R. Johnson, and Takuji Ishimoto. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Is It Time to Reappraise the Role of Sugar Consumption?” Postgraduate Medicine 123.5 (2011): 39-49.
Yale Health, Sugar Detective,
Nseir W, Soft drinks consumption and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun 7;16(21):2579-88

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brain, autism, GABA

GABA for Calming and Anxiety

GABA in helping Anxiety Associated with Autism and ADHD

GABA can be very beneficial for Anxiety

During the process of allowing the body to heal itself, supplements of some sort are usually necessary to give the body what it has been lacking for so long. Optimally, we would like to get to a place of full healing in the body to where supplements are not necessary. However, in the beginning, this is rarely the case.

Many people suffer from anxiety, but especially those with ADHD or on the autism spectrum. GABA levels are very typically reduced in these individuals.

GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid that acts as the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brain. It is also responsible for keeping all the other neurotransmitters in check. Our brains need a balance of both excitement and inhibition. An unstable balance, or too much excitation will lead to restlessness, insomnia and irritability. GABA helps to balance this out, naturally. It is also involved with the production of endorphins in our brain, which provide us with that feeling of “all is good”, or what is often referred to as the “runner’s high”. GABA will reduce stress, relieve anxiety and increase alertness.

A deficiency of GABA in people with autism can contribute to the poor inhibition that allows their brain to become over stimulated, which results in their living in a constant state of anxiety.

Some of the following may be experienced with a GABA deficiency.

• anxiety/nervousness
• seizures
• irritability
• heart palpitations
• hypertension
• headaches

Many factors can be involved in lowering GABA levels in the body; some being:

• B1, B6, zinc, manganese and iron deficiency
• Chronic stress
• Inadequate Sleep
• Mercury or lead exposure
• Chronic Pain

Supplementing with GABA will help with:

• Stress
• Hyperactivity
• Anxiety/restlessness
• Impulsivity
• Depression

This can be helped with the GABA supplement. Whenever you introduce a new supplement, always take it slow and go low on dose. Typically, a good place to start is about 250 mg capsule (they can be opened up and mixed in drink/food) and work your way up until you reach the dose which is effective.



Melville, N., Absence of GABA Activity Linked to Autistic Behaviors, Medscape Medical News, January 2016

Neurotransmitter May Be Linked to Autistic Behavior,
The ASHA Leader, June 2016, Vol. 21, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.21062016.14
Coghalan, S., et. al, GABA system dysfunction in autism and related disorders: From synapse to symptoms,

Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews Volume 36, Issue 9, October 2012, Pages 2044–2055

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What about Medications for Autism & ADHD?

Aren’t they effective and helpful?


For this article I want to focus on medication for ADHD. Ritalin and Adderall are the two most common medications prescribed for ADHD. While they may be effective at controlling unwarranted behaviors and improving concentration, there are many side effects that come along with it. Now, I am not saying there is never a time and a place for these medications. I just want people to be aware of the side effects and know that in many times, there are other options. Here, I want to focus on Ritalin (methylphenidate).


Introduction of Ritalin:

  • One of the most common central nervous system stimulants prescribed in children over age of 6
  • Schedule II Narcotic
    • Same classification as morphine, methamphetamines and codeine
      • High potential for abuse
      • S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that studies show that Ritalin is more potent than cocaine and effects the brain in the same way as cocaine does
    • Stimulants are most common treatment of ADHD and are also being used as a treatment for narcolepsy
    • According to the National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief no. 42, from 2007 – 2008, “The most commonly used types of prescription drugs in the United States by age were: ….central nervous system stimulants for adolescents aged 12–19.”
    • The prevalence of children 4-17 years of age taking ADHD medication increased from 4.8% in 2007 to 6.1% in 2011
    • More than 17 million children worldwide prescribed psychiatric medicines


How does Ritalin work?

  • Ritalin increases dopamine levels in the brain
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which plays a critical role in moods, behaviors and motivation
  • Ritalin blocks a protein responsible for transporting dopamine
  • Affects chemicals and nerves which contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control
  • “Methylphenidate blocks dopamine uptake in central adrenergic neurons by blocking dopamine transport or carrier proteins. Methylphenidate acts at the brain stem arousal system and the cerebral cortex and causes increased sympathomimetic activity in the central nervous system. Alteration of serotonergic pathways via changes in dopamine transport may result.”
  • It is believed that those with ADHD may have more of these dopamine transporters than others.


Warnings and Adverse Reactions:

  • Can cause “sudden death” in susceptible individuals
    • Typically has been seen due to cardiovascular effects
  • Can lead to dependency and addiction
    • As a result of dopamine mechanisms
    • May cause visual hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and psychotic behaviors
      • Also due to the effects on dopamine


Ritalin as a Recreational Drug:

  • DEA has received reports of college students using Ritalin to help them study for all-night study sessions
  • Many also admittedly use Ritalin as a “party drug”
  • One survey of students at a public liberal arts college found that “over 50% of survey participants knew other students who had used Ritalin for fun, 16% had used it themselves, and nearly 13% reported their own use included snorting the drug.”
  • Chronic heavy use can lead to physical dependence-- withdrawal symptoms include exhaustion and severe emotional depression
  • Ritalin’s dependence can cause cravings for the drug and panic if it becomes unavailable


Nutrients Depleted from Ritalin use and Symptoms Associated:




  • “Some children are at risk of serious growth decrement when treated with MPH” (methylphenidate/Ritalin)
  • Nutrient intake and growth of children taking methylphenidate should be monitored very closely
  • Calcium/Magnesium ratio significantly lower after 3 weeks of treatment with methylphenidate
  • “the decrease in the ratio may be relevant to side effects and treatment resistance associated with stimulant use.”
  • Significantly depletes dopamine and causes cell death in olfactory bulb
    • Olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system and is involved in motivation, emotions and memory
    • May be related to the depressive symptoms associated with amphetamine withdrawal


Caffeine can enhance side effects of Ritalin so it is recommended to limit caffeine to small quantities

Alcohol should be avoided as it may increase nervous system side effects such as drowsiness, anxiety, depression, and seizures

  • When Alcohol is combined with methylphenidate, a metabolite known as ethylphenidate is produced, which can be fatal in some individuals.


There are many natural alternatives to treating ADHD which also improve optimal health status. Looking for specific food intolerance’s and micronutrient deficiencies is especially helpful. Other improvements can be seen with:

Studies have shown significant reduction in ADHD symptoms and overall health by optimizing diet and lifestyle.






, Facts and Statistics on Amphetamine Abuse, Accessed December 2, 2015
 Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Accessed December 2, 2015
 Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, by Ross Pelton, R.PH., PH.D; James B. LaValle, R.Ph., N.D.; and Ernest B. Hawkins, R.Ph., M.S. (Lexi-Comp, 2001]
Atianjoh, Fidelis E. et al. 'Amphetamine Causes Dopamine Depletion And Cell Death In The Mouse Olfactory Bulb'. European Journal of Pharmacology 589.1-3 (2008): 94-97. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
Schmidt, ME.,, Effect of dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate on calcium and magnesium concentration in hyperactive boys., Psychiatry Res. 1994 Nov;54(2):199-210
Garfinkel BD, et al. 'Individual Responses To Methylphenidate And Caffeine In Children With Minimal Brain Dysfunction, Canadian Medical Assoc Journal. - Pubmed - NCBI'. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
Krueger J, et al. 'First Detection Of Ethylphenidate In Human Fatalities After Ethylphenidate Intake., Forensic Science Int. - Pubmed - NCBI'. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
Zhu, Hao-Jie, Kennerly S. Patrick, and John S. Markowitz. 'Enantiospecific Determination Of Dl-Methylphenidate And Dl-Ethylphenidate In Plasma By Liquid Chromatography–Tandem Mass Spectrometry: Application To Human Ethanol Interactions'. Journal of Chromatography B 879.11-12 (2011): 783-788. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
Dolina, S. et al. 'Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) As A Pyridoxine-Dependent Condition: Urinary Diagnostic Biomarkers'. Medical Hypotheses 82.1 (2014): 111-116. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
B L Hungund, B G Winsberg. 'Pharmacokinetics Of Methylphenidate In Hyperkinetic Children.'. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 8.6 (1979): 571. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
DrugBank, Methylphenidate,
Neuropsychopharmacology, ADHD and attention networks, (Image),
Center for Substance Abuse Research, Ritalin, Accessed December 2, 2015
Holtkamp, K.,, Methylphenidate-related growth impairment, J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2002 Spring;12(1):55-61.
Schmidt, ME.,, Effect of dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate on calcium and magnesium concentration in hyperactive boys., Psychiatry Res. 1994 Nov;54(2):199-210
Atianjoh, Fidelis E. et al. 'Amphetamine Causes Dopamine Depletion And Cell Death In The Mouse Olfactory Bulb'. European Journal of Pharmacology 589.1-3 (2008): 94-97. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.


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kids, food, nutrition, adhd

How Food Additives Could Be Disrupting Your Child’s Behavior

As published on Zhou Nutrition

Most of the food consumed today is fast food, processed, and packaged food with artificial additives and pounds of added sugar. Eating this way is a huge cause of nutrient deficiencies; and the sugar and additives tax and deplete the system more.

Additives in Food and Its Effect on Your Body Health

Many children today do not get the minimum requirement of nutrients that are needed for brain development including zinc, iron, calcium, B6, omega 3s and more. Since the body and brain are connected, learning and behavior are affected by the state of health our bodies are in.

There is more and more scientific literature being published saying negative childhood behaviors and symptoms associated with ADHD and autism spectrum disorders can be improved through nutrition. Poor diet and digestion can cause inadequate absorption of critical nutrients. This can also lead to a condition known as leaky gut- marked by malabsorption of nutrients, inflammatory responses to foods that are not broken down, and a burden to the detoxification pathways in the body.

What additives should you look out for?

Whole foods are best to consume but when you are eating foods with a label, steer clear of these ingredients:

Artificial Colors

Anything that begins with FD&C (e.g. FD&C Blue #1)

Several countries require any foods containing food dyes to have warning labels and many are actually banned from use, however, they are still used in the US regularly.

Even very small amounts of artificial dyes can negatively affect some children but research has found that a significant number of children are affected by amounts over 35 mg per day. Just one bowl of brightly colored cereal or many candies typically exceeds the 35 mg threshold.


We all know about “sugar highs” and the short term effects sugar can have on a child’s behavior, but there are many problems associated with excessive sugar intake over time as well. A 2011 study published in “Postgraduate Medicine” found correlations between excessive sugar intake and behaviors associated with ADHD. The reason may be related to a disruption of chemicals in the brain affecting the reward –related areas of the brain. Sugar can come in many forms added to foods such as dextrose, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).


Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Benzoate, Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Sulfites (Sulfur Dioxide, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium And Potassium Bisulfite, Sodium and Potassium Metabisulfite)

Be wary of labels that report “no added preservatives.” They can still contain ingredients which were already preserved before the final product. Choose “preservative free” instead.

Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin

It is estimated that up to 40% of children in America consume aspartame. Dr. Blaylock, Neurosurgeon, writes in his book “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills” that aspartame can lower the seizure threshold and deplete serotonin levels. Low serotonin can trigger Bipolar, anxiety, depression and mood swings.


Monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer that can cause mood and behavior changes, including headaches and hyperactivity. Like aspartame, it is a known excitotoxin which means it can cause severe damage to cells throughout the body. MSG can be hidden in labels under other names such as hydrolyzed, autolyzed, natural flavors, and more, making it very difficult to identify.

Removing MSG, food colors, and other additives has been shown to improve behaviors such as hyperactivity, sleep disorders, irritability and concentration. Sticking to whole, organic foods as often as possible helps to increase the absorption of critical nutrients leading to better overall health and behaviors.

Stevens, L. et,al., Amounts of Artificial Food Dyes and Added Sugars in Foods and Sweets Commonly Consumed by Children, CLIN PEDIATR April 24, 2014
Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Dyes: A rainbow of risks, June 2010
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