Info on ADHD and low iron
ADHD Causes - Iron Deficiency
By Dr. Yannick Pauli
Dr. Yannick Pauli
Dr. Yannick Pauli is the Director of Centre Wellness NeuroFit in Lausanne Switzerland. He is the founder of Brain Potential, a rehabilitation program that combines ...
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Although a deficiency in neurotransmitters may be the most "obvious" biological cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, doctors do not bother investigating what could be causing this deficiency. Instead, they treat the symptom with stimulant medications that give short-term improvements in behavior at a long-term cost. Before any treatment for ADHD is put into place, there must be an effort to identify all the possible causes of the disorder, instead of being simply satisfied with suppressing the symptoms.
A growing number of research points to a link between iron deficiency and ADHD in children
. In fact, iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies among American children. This discovery makes sense - iron is an important mineral needed to produce neurotransmitters
. It is also responsible for regulating the activity of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that handles attention and movement
. Too much or too little dopamine causes chronic inattention and hyperactivity, and with too little iron to regulate its release, it's no wonder so many schoolchildren experience behavior and attention problems.
Did you know that iron deficiency can occur as early as pregnancy? If a pregnant woman has too little iron in her body, the developing fetus in the uterus may suffer from intrauterine growth retardation as well as increased risks of complicated childbirth. What kind of milk you give to your child will also determine the iron content in his or her body. Cow's milk not only contains very little iron, it is difficult for a baby's body to absorb what little iron there is in cow's milk. Assuming that the mother carries a healthy amount of iron in her body, breast milk is the best source of iron for a growing infant. Finally, the poor eating habits of children and teenagers also put them at risk for iron deficiency.
Researchers believe that there is a relationship between iron deficiency in infanthood and poor school performance and delayed brain development in childhood. A study done in France in 2004 concluded that children with low iron levels were the most inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive among the participants. Their conclusions show that iron deficiency can account for as many as 30% of ADHD cases.
Besides behavioral and developmental problems, a child with an iron deficiency is also at great risk for absorbing toxins. Children with low iron levels have been found to easily absorb heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and mercury. In fact, toxicologists have observed a correlation between low iron stores and high blood levels of lead in children.
Although the link between iron deficiency and ADHD symptoms seems to have been determined, very few researchers have explored using iron to treat the disorder. One study performed in Israel has shown promising results: after giving iron supplements to 14 boys with ADHD for 30 days, their parents found remarkable improvements in their children's behavior. This study suggests that hyperactive and inattentive behavior can be treated if the child's iron deficiency is corrected.
As promising as this finding might seem, don't go around treating an iron deficiency yourself! If you suspect that your child might have an iron deficiency, have him or her tested for blood mineral content and consult a physician for the appropriate dosage. Excess iron in the body is toxic and remains in the system for a very long time, aggravating neurological problems and causing other disorders.