Food Additives and the Effect on Children with ADHD

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is characterized by symptoms of restlessness, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention to focus. It is estimated that 3 to 6% of school-aged children in the United States are affected by this disorder. This estimation had led to speculate that allergies to foods and food additives in particular could be the triggering factor of ADHD in children.
The idea of food effecting children’s behavior actually came to light in the 70’s by an allergist named Dr. Feingold. He concluded that the removal of over 300 food additives could help treat hyperactivity in children.
Food additives are not shown to cause ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder); however, it has been shown that certain food colorings and preservatives can increase hyperactive behavior in children. We need to remember not all children will react the same way to the food additives and their combinations also play a part in hyperactivity behavior.
Researchers have found that if 15% of children with symptoms of hyperactivity related behavior were placed on an additive –free diet the percentage could be reduced to only 6%. With further research on the remaining 9% there could be additional decrease in symptoms of behavior. Regarding the fact that everyone is different there will never be 100% effectiveness with diet or medications.
With some foods and especially candy containing so many additives and sodium benzoate makes it impossible to narrow down which additive may be the specific culprit. This is why all additives as dyes are all on the list of having the same effects on children with hyperactively behavior. Candy products can have as many as ten dyes in them, not to mention the sugar content.
There has been thought that deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and Vitamin B6 could play a part in ADHD in children; however there have been inconsistent results. Parents must use care with using supplement vitamins and minerals as mega dosing can be toxic to the body.

Food Additives That May Affect ADHD

These food additives are the most common ones that are found in many of our foods. Some of the foods we are probably not even aware that these are the ingredients included. The food dyes are usually the easiest way to identify due to the coloring of the foods.
Sodium benzoate
Yellow No. 5 Also known as: Tartrazine
Yellow No. 6 Also known as: Sunset Yellow
Yellow No. 10 Also known as: Quinoline Yellow)
Red No. 3 Also known as: Carmoisine
Red No.40 Also known as: Allura Red
Blue No. 1 Also known as: Brilliant Blue
Blue No. 2 Also known as: Indigo Tine
Green No. 3
Sodium Benzoate is found in fruit juice, carbonated beverages, and pickles. In acidic foods is where you will find the most Sodium Benzoate as it is used to stymie microorganism growth.
A nutritious healthy diet is the best approach for children in general. It is important to limit or remove sugar and processed foods from their diets. A healthy diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and grains. There are healthy fats that are needed in diets, such as Omega-3, which is found in fish, flaxseed, and other foods.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact additive or blends of additives to link as the main instigator in hyperactivity behavior. With these additives not being healthy in general it is best to remove completely or at least limit the intake of these additives in your child’s diet.
Also by removing processed foods and these additives, may reduce the long-term risk or development of hyperactive behavior in the future. Not only could these steps reduce the risk for ADHD, but also other health issues that afflict us in adulthood. The sooner we eliminate unhealthy or harming foods the less damage is done to our bodies.

What are in Food Additives?

Food additives are found in baked goods, like cake mixes and frosting. You can also find these additives in powdered drinks like Iced Teas, Tang, and Kool-Aid. Your energy drinks have food additives, as well as soft drinks like orange, yellow, or red colored drinks. Even juice drinks will have food additives. The PowerAde drinks, cereal, and many breakfast prepackaged foods. Of course candies and gum are included in the list. The list is too vast to list them all, basically anything that you can see has artificial added coloring is a food additive on the list.
These synthetic food dyes are made from petrochemicals. Some countries mostly European, are required to carry warning notices on products containing these dyes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have been petitioned to ban food dyes in the U.S. To date there are still dyes in certain foods, which is probably due to the lobbyist for these large manufactures that use these dyes. Besides the effect on hyperactivity in children these dyes have been linked to many other ailments including risk of cancer, genetic damage, and allergic reactions.

Allergic reactions are not always hives live most think; there can be minor reactions inside the body that are not noticeable at first. As time progress they will come to the surface and need treatment.
Citrus Red 2 is only approved for use on orange skins and not for use in any processing. Consumers are never aware of its presence in the foods.

So What Can You Do?

When a change is needed for an individual in a family, the best solution is for the family as whole to change. Changing everyone’s diet may seem difficult and this may be true at first. Old habits are hard to break, but the benefits that everyone will receive will be well worth a few weeks of discomfort and struggle. With your children being healthier and behaving calmer will increase the harmony in the entire household. Try a few changes a day towards healthy eating habits and you will find it will be well worth the stretch.
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  • Millie M.

    Reply Reply May 17, 2016

    Is there anything that we eat that doesn’t contain a certain trace of these additives? Even the “fresh” fruits and vegetables that we eat have been sprayed with chemicals. I have a friend who has a kid with ADHD and it’s really tough for them as a family. The government definitely needs to ban these harmful stuff.

  • Georgina D.

    Reply Reply May 17, 2016

    This article reminded me of that news last week about burgers with rat and human DNA. It made my stomach turn! A few years ago, there was a similar issue in the UK, but it was horse DNA in beef sold at groceries. Will we ever be safe from these unwanted stuff in our food? I bet a whole lot of symptoms are caused by these additives, we just don’t notice it. And it’s not only kids with ADHD.

  • Yuen Ling Elaine Au Yeung

    Reply Reply May 18, 2016

    “With some foods and especially candy containing so many additives and sodium benzoate makes it impossible to narrow down which additive may be the specific culprit.” I agreed so. I I feel that, if the children take too much sweet candy, there are some issues for the healthy of their teeth. The best way, they might try to brush their teeth quite often for avoiding problem teeth.

  • Maria Carelle Relavo

    Reply Reply May 18, 2016

    This enlightens me a lot. Like most people think, I thought fruit drinks are safer to drink than soda.
    The first responsibility of family is to get educated with eating habits and behavior. Knowing the family’s member with ADHD helps them to understand why such child behave that way or what causes his/her hyperactivity.

    Unfortunately, kids nowadays love candies and drinks so much and parents aren’t there everytime to tell them what to eat and not to eat. Disciplining the child at home and making him get used to healthy food could help parents lessen their worry.

  • Hannah Cortes

    Reply Reply May 18, 2016

    As a mother of a four-year old, I am very picky when it comes to my son’s nutrition. I don’t buy processed food because I know it has a lot of additives that are not good especially for growing kids.

  • ellaina

    Reply Reply May 18, 2016

    As a parents, I feel very difficult the find a good food without any additives. 90% process food contains additives.. which with frequent intakes can make harm to the child especially to a growing kids.

  • Ruchi Gupta

    Reply Reply May 18, 2016

    How is it that cancer patients are advised to consume packed fruit juices and not fresh juices in hospitals? Real Fruit Juice was advised to my father by the doctors.

  • Usha Gupta

    Reply Reply May 18, 2016

    After having read this article, I think I will be better placed to tell my children about the ill-effects of outside food and the harmful additives. It will encourage them to prefer home-cooked food only.

  • Isabel

    Reply Reply May 18, 2016

    I try to avoid processed foods and drinks, but in this day and age, it seems that everything we buy is somehow tainted. We are not sure of the integrity of fresh produce unless we farmed them ourselves. Hence, we rely on the labels we read.

  • Shamkant Sukalikar

    Reply Reply May 19, 2016

    It takes lot of time to notice the effect especially bad,and it even takes more time to declare it officially as many vested interest comes in way.I think the food and eatables which has come to us by traditions are most of the times, safe and healthy. Because they are time tested and tasted by many before we go for it.

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