Food Additives Cause ADHD in Children & Adults
Normal Active Child
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms.
There are several areas of research trying to find the cause of the increasing problem of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children. First, how is ADHD diagnosed?
Things to watch for with children that have ADHD:
- Fidgeting and squirming in their seats at school or home
- Talking nonstop
- Running around often touching anything and everything in sight
- Can't sit still at dinner, in school or even while playing a game or being read a story
- Constantly being in motion
- Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.
Some children are very impulsive and shout out inappropriate comments and they tend to be very impatient as well. They don't take turns with others well or wait in line patiently. They think nothing of interrupting other people's activities.
In older children will not give close attention to details, so they make mistakes in their school work or even when playing. They will often fail to follow through with their school work, and they lose things necessary to complete the task, like pencils or even toys. Of course, they get easily distracted by external stimuli.
Food Additives and ADHD
Research Studies with Food Additives
According to Mayo Clinic, there is no solid evidence that food colorings and preservatives cause or worsen hyperactive behavior in some children. Several studies looked at a combination of food additives, and there effect is not clear as to which additives may affect behavior.
Food additives that may increase hyperactive behavior include:
- Sodium benzoate
- FD&C Yellow No. 6 (sunset yellow)
- D&C Yellow No. 10 (quinoline yellow)
- FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine)
- FD&C Red No.40 (allura red)
The FD&C requires that FD & C Yellow No. 6 be labeled on all foods. It is typically used in beverages, candy, ice cream, custards and other food.
In a published editorial appearing in BMJ , pediatrics professor Andrew Kemp, MD, of the University of Sydney, called for removal of food additives from the diet to be part of standard initial treatment for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Dr. Kemp cited a recent controlled trial study which showed an increase in hyperactivity among children without ADHD who were fed a diet high in food colorings and the preservative sodium benzoate.
Last February, editors of the American Academy of Pediatrics publication AAP Grand Rounds and they cited the same study as evidence that it is time to revisit the issue.
ADHD Warning - Nutrition by Natalie
Studies Seem to Show Mixed Results
The Feingold Program is another study conducting double blind studies to see if there is a link between artificial food coloring and ADD. The result again was inconclusive as a general rule. Different children reacted differently to specific food and additives. An elimination diet was the most effective way to see how a child's behavior changed.
On the other hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported that food additives and/or sodium benzoate (which is a commonly used preservative in soft drinks) may indeed increase hyperactive behavior in children. According to the World of Psychology the list of possibilities that cause ADHD seems to grow everyday, and according to their website some additives found in popular soft drinks may play a role.
One of the additives, sodium benzoate, has been linked to cell damage in a previous study, and to an increased for cancer. Sodium benzoate is found in Coca-Cola, Pepsi Max and Diet Pepsi, and in many fruit drinks.
Other additives assessed in the study include a number of food colorings – sunset yellow (E110), found in fruity drinks; carmoisine (E122), a red coloring often added to jams; ponceau 4R (E124), a red food coloring; tartrazine (E102), found in lollipops and carbonated drinks; quinoline yellow E104), a food coloring; and allura red AC (E129), and orange-red food dye.
Good Nutrition Tips for Any Child
More research is needed to determine if food coloring actually causes or increases symptoms of ADD. If you notice your child's behavior changes for the worse after eating aparticular food, than the obvious choice is to eliminate that particular food.
Food additives in themselves have not been found to cause or even significantly contribute to the symptoms of ADHD as the treatment of this condition is dependent on many other factors.
The most common allergies for children and foods to avoid include:
- tree nuts
The approach for your child's overall health and nutrition is a diet that limits sugary and processed foods and is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish,flaxseed and other foods.
How to Treat ADHD Naturally Through Diet: The Feingold Program
In summary, 35 years of study has given us mixed messages. Using an elimination diet, where you add foods back one at a time is probably the most useful way to see howe your child reacts.
Since the evidence is contradictory as to the effect of food additives on hyperactivity. It would seem wise to avoid sodium benzoate and FD&C Yellow Dye No. 6. Other than that, it seems obviously, more research needs to be completed for concrete proof.
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.