Nutrition, Vitamins & ADHD
 



Is There a Connection Between Nutrition and a Child's Behavior?

Believe it or not, there was a time when people weren’t convinced about the connection between our diet and our health. Health, or lack thereof, was considered to be a result of chance or poor genes.
 
Now, there is no doubt about the connection between nutrition and our physical health; and this connection is much more crucial during childhood.  Many of the physical development issues children may face are directly connected to each child’s specific nutritional needs in his or her lifetime.  
 
In short, it is well-established that nutrition is intrinsically connected to a child’s physical and neurological health. However, the connection between a child’s health and his or her behavior is not as well circulated.
 
With the rising diagnosis of child developmental conditions like ADHD, autism, and autism spectrum disorder, researchers are investing more time and resources to find out what factors, including diet, increase the risk of children having these conditions.
 
Luckily, researchers have made significant strides in this area, and I am committed to applying this knowledge in my nutrition practice to helping families and individuals who are struggling with these conditions.
 
In this article, I will review what the foundational research says about how nutrition influences child behavioral development.
 
First, Let’s Review How Developmental Delays Affect the Brain
 
Only recently have we begun to understand how different brain conditions affect, not only the brain, but the whole body. These conditions manifest themselves in significant behavioral differences when compared with children without these conditions. This information is fundamental for finding answers. Below I’ve described some of the basics.




What is Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder and How Does It Affect Health and Behavior?
 
 
The many types of autism don’t have one particular cause, rather they are the result of a range of genetic and environmental factors that a child may experience.  
Scientists have identified multiple gene mutations that are associated with autism spectrum disorder. Some of these genetic changes, or epigenetic changes can take place due to biochemical imbalances, gastrointestinal dysfunction, and environmental factors like diet and toxins.
 
These elements that arise during crucial developmental months of life result in differences in behavior. Some of the difficulties include repetitive behaviors, difficulties with social interaction, and gastrointestinal health issues. Each individual with autism is unique, and while about 40% have an intellectual disability, many develop exceptional skills in a specific area, like visual arts, music, and academics. In about 25% of cases, individuals with ASD are nonverbal.




What is ADHD and How Does It Affect Health and Behavior?
 
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can cause difficulty remaining attentive, can experience hyperactivity or impulsivity, and have difficulty regulating their mood, among others.
Like other behavioral disorders, researchers have found that there are usually multiple causes of risk factors acting at once. These include genes, health behaviors of the mother during pregnancy, low birth weight, food allergies/sensitivities and brain injuries.
 
In all these cases, a complete and specialized nutrition intervention may help with some of the discomforts that can arise when an individual has been diagnosed with ASD or ADHD.
 
How Can Diet Improve Health and Behavior of Children and Adults with Developmental Delays?
 
There three basic principles that families and health specialists alike should be aware of when developing a nutrition al plan for people with ADHD or ASD. 





How Can Diet Improve Health and Behavior of Children and Adults with Developmental Delays?
 
There three basic principles that families and health specialists alike should be aware of when developing a nutrition al plan for people with ADHD or ASD


1. People with Developmental Delays Tend to Have Unbalanced Diets

Many parents and caregivers of children and adults with behavioral disorders struggle with what they often describe as “picky”, or “fussy” eating behaviors. Caregivers recognize that there are certain foods people with ASD or ADHD won’t eat, and in some cases what they will eat is extremely limited. For example, foods with gluten (like bread and cereals) and casein (like yogurt and cheese), tend to cause inflammation and gastrointestinal discomfort in individuals with ASD. They are also foods that stimulate opioid receptors in the brain, meaning they can cause addiction. For this reason, these foods also tend to be some of the most accepted by children; this can put parents in a very difficult situation, if not advised by a nutritional specialist.
Few nutrition professionals are familiar with developmental delay-specific nutritional needs, so caregivers are left to their own devices, following fads and advice of non-professionals. The lack of sound guidance, together with “picky” behavior can lead to nutrient deficiencies and excesses that can make the problem worse.

 
2. Certain Foods May Worsen Behavioral Symptoms

 
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognize that there are certain foods that may affect people with behavioral disorders differently than the average population.
Children with ADHD, for example, may have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, and magnesium, and they often do not eat enough food. Eating foods that are energy and nutrient-dense is important for these children. 
 
People with Autism and ASD have a range of characteristics that can affect their eating patterns, from motor patters than can affect chewing and swallowing to repetitive or restrictive eating. Additionally, ASD is often accompanied by food allergies, stomach pain due to anxiety, constipation and others. These can make individuals irritable, and they are often unable to express their discomfort. Research shows that foods containing gluten and dairy may make them feel worse.

 
3. Nutrition is part of a holistic health support plan

 
Just like with any individual seeking maintain long-term health, they need to have optimum physical and mental health. Physical health is the result of exercise, treating illnesses effectively, and a balanced nutrition that meet individual needs.
When a person is diagnosed with Autism, ASD or ADHD, physicians will often discuss medications that an individual can take to improve behavior, but nutrition is often left out of the equation. Nutritional interventions are a key part of any holistic health plan, regardless of health status.

Wrapping it Up

 Nutrition and diet is often ignored when discussing ways to support the health and wellbeing of people with developmental delays like ADHD, Autism, and ASD. However, as we become more aware of the many pathways in which nutrients (and lack thereof) can affect the health and development of the general population, we must not ignore that this is logically also true for people with behavioral disorders.
 
If you are looking to put together a holistic health plan for a person with Autism or ADHD, make sure that nutrition and diet are cornerstones for your plan. 
 
Contact me at info@denisevoight.com to set up an appointment to get started with a Personalized Nutrition Intervention plan.   https://www.denisevoight.com/blog/nutrition%20and%20child's%20behavior




Nutrition Deficiencies and Autism

Children with autism are prone to having selective eating patterns, a limited food repertoire, sensory issues that are linked to restricted food intake, and neophobia, which refers to the fear of trying anything new including unknown or unfamiliar foods [1-3]. In some cases, dietary restrictions (e.g. casein- or gluten-free diets) that caretakers/parents use as a therapeutic approach to targeting behavioral and/or gastrointestinal issues may also contribute to the nutritional vulnerability of children with autism [4].

Accordingly, vitamin B-12, D, E, folate, biotin, and pantothenic acid deficiencies have been observed in individuals with autism as well as elevated vitamin B6 levels in some children with this condition [1]. Children with autism also tend to have lower levels of calcium, magnesium, selenium, chromium, iodine, and lithium as well as amino acid and fatty acid imbalances [1]. Over the years, research has demonstrated that these types of nutritional imbalances are associated with functional issues including behavioral impairments and communication problems [5].

Based on these findings, more emphasis is being placed on actively addressing nutritional status instead of just accepting picky eating as a typical characteristic of autism. Furthermore, research consistently shows that nutritional supplementation is beneficial for children with autism [5], thereby indicating that this is an integral part of the therapeutic management of autism.

This is why I developed My Spectrum Heroes™ Multivitamin Mineral Plus. It is a dietary supplement designed to support the developing brain and nervous system with extra support for kids on the spectrum. you can learn more about this high potency, superior quality supplement by visiting the website at www.myspectrumheroes.com

My Nutrition Intervention for Autism and ADHD addresses these common deficiencies and helps guide parents to better ways of ensuring their kids are getting adequate nutriton that supports their developing brain and nervous system and can help improve behaviors and symptoms.  https://www.denisevoight.com/blog/nutrition-deficiencies-and-autism


Covid-19 Immune System Support for ASD and ADHD

Getting kids to eat a healthy diet can be challenging in the best of times, and now that we’re facing the coronavirus pandemic, a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is more important than ever. Our immune systems depend on micro- and macronutrients that we get from our diets to protect us from infection and to speed recovery from illness.

Both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been associated with dietary deficits that affect immunity, and correcting these deficits improves symptoms.1,2 Several of the deficient vitamins that are observed in both disorders are important for a strong immune system, including vitamin D, zinc, and selenium, among others.3 

Inflammation and immune dysregulation are known contributors to ASD, and more recent evidence links them to ADHD as well.4,5 Since diet affects immunity, making sure that kids with ASD and ADHD are getting all of the nutrients they need is critical to protecting them from illnesses, including viral infections, like Covid-19. 

One of the most effective ways to minimize risks for illness is by giving the immune system all the tools it needs to do its job. Several vitamins and minerals are “enzyme cofactors” that are required in order for your immune system to do its job; asking your immune system to function without cofactors is like asking a carpenter to work without a hammer.6

Many of the nutrients that are deficient in ASD and ADHD are enzyme cofactors. For example, deficiencies in the enzyme cofactor and antioxidant selenium have been linked to increased risk for viral infections and poorer outcomes in people who get them.7,8 Many other micro- and macronutrients are equally as important. 

COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which hijacks cells and turns them into virus-making factories. As the virus spreads throughout the body, more cells are infected, and the illness becomes more severe.9 A robust immune system can respond rapidly and aggressively to hijacked cells to prevent them from releasing more virus into the body, but if certain nutrients are missing, the immune system will grind to a halt.

In order to be at their healthiest, it’s important to make sure that children with ASD and ADHD are getting a complete diet. Unfortunately, getting them to eat right can be a challenge. Kids with ASD and ADHD can be very picky eaters, leaving parents wondering whether their children are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need. 

No supplements cure COVID-19, but by improving immune system function, they can minimize illness severity and speed recovery. This is especially important for kids with ASD or ADHD, since both of these disorders are linked to dietary-related immune system dysfunction. Protect your child’s health and wellbeing by making sure they get a high-quality dietary supplement.

Finding these high-quality nutritional supplements can be challenging. This is why I formulated My Spectrum Heroes™. Providing only the very best nutrients, in therapeutic and safe doses, all backed by research is my passion. Our Immune Support PLUS Bundle  ensures that your child is getting the boost they need to get through cold and flu season smoothly!

My Spectrum Heroes™ delivers precise quantities of immunity-boosting and symptom-relieving nutrients in an easy-to-use, dissolvable powder, giving parents peace of mind and confidence that their kids are getting the best nutrition.

  Functional Medicine Nutrition for Autism and ADHD Blog (denisevoight.com)






My Spectrum Heroes

My Spectrum Heroes™ was created to provide a trusted resource for support, education, and empowerment of parents, caregivers, clinicians, and anyone who serves a loved one with autism, ADHD, and/or neurocognitive challenges. 

We are committed to improving the health, learning, behavior, and neurocognitive function of individuals with autism and/or ADHD by providing only the highest quality nutritional support products that have been selectively formulated based on scientific studies, clinical trials, and evidence-based research. With contributions from some of the most innovative scientists, doctors, and researchers, My Spectrum Heroes™ is dedicated to becoming  a valuable source of information and resources for autism, ADHD, and Neurocognitive impairment.
 
My Spectrum Heroes' vision is to transform the current medical model of treatment for neurocognitive challenges to one that recognizes the benefits and amazing clinical outcomes that occur from supporting the body’s biochemistry with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Getting to the root cause of health issues, not just masking symptoms, should be the focus and the best place to start is by supporting the body’s nutritional needs. My Spectrum Heroes™ is dedicated to providing safe and effective nutritional solutions of the highest quality.

Denise Voight, MS is a Clinical Nutritionist with a Masters of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine specializing in Nutritional Intervention for autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. She is an expert in applying scientifically proven food and nutrition therapies to improve health, learning, and behavior in children with ASD and ADHD.


 Denise is committed to being a part of the new paradigm shift in medicine, placing the emphasis and importance of nutrition in the forefront. Her passion for studying nutritional biochemistry for the past 20 years emerged from her own son’s struggle with ADHD. Using a Functional Medicine approach to heal his gut and identify food intolerances changed their lives and drove Denise to pursue her career as a Functional Medicine Nutritionist where she uses her expertise and compassion to help educate, empower, and support families affected by autism and ADHD.


When working with families, one thing that Denise often encountered was the challenge to get kids to eat foods that would provide the nutrients necessary to repair the commonly seen biochemical imbalances and nutrient deficiencies. She would recommend nutritional supplements to help bridge those nutritional gaps, but it would often times require combining many different supplements to get the therapeutic doses necessary and could add up to hundreds of dollars very quickly.  


High quality nutraceuticals made specifically for children, with the combination of ingredients in the proper bioavailable forms, and that would not contain ingredients that could aggravate autism or ADHD symptoms proved to be very difficult and very expensive for families. So Denise made it her mission to develop a line of superior nutritional support supplements that would provide these vitally necessary nutrients and make them available to all families, even those who don’t have access to specialty doctors who carry therapeutic supplements. Learn more about Denise and her Nutrition Intervention for Autism and ADHD courses, programs, and blog at www.denisevoight.com.





My Spectrum Heroes™ GI Shield is designed to promote the health and barrier function of the gastrointestinal lining.
Supports GI Barrier Health and Integrity
Maintains Normal Inflammatory Balance and Healthy Gut Epithelium
Provides Concentrated Nutrition for GI Cells
The purpose of the epithelium is to allow the digestion and absorption of dietary nutrients while keeping unwanted toxins, microbes and food particles from passing directly into the body. GI Shield includes a high dose of L-glutamine (4 g), which serves as nutrition for the gut lining. It provides 400 mg of deglycyrrhized licorice root extract (DGL) and 75 mg of aloe vera extract, both of which protect and promote the health of the gut mucosa. N-acetyl glucosamine and zinc boost GI integrity.

My Spectrum Heroes™ Super Omega Liquid is a molecularly distilled, high concentration fish oil sourced from the cold, fresh waters off the Chilean coast. These waters provide the cleanest, most sustainable source of fish in the world. Omega 3 Liquid includes 1.3 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 850 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per serving as natural triglycerides, the preferred form. The bioidentical, triglyceride form found in Super Omega Liquid allows for enhanced absorption and better assimilation in the body. The Super Omega Liquid formulation is a convenient method of achieving optimal omega-3 levels in the body. The natural mango-flavored liquid is the ideal alternative to encapsulated fish oil supplements.
My Spectrum Heroes™ Probiotic Essentials Powder is a probiotic formula for children, designed to deliver live bacteria that promote healthy gut microflora, protect intestinal integrity and boost immune function. The formula contains three strains of Lactobacilli, three strains of Bifidobacteria, and Saccharomyces boulardii, all extensively researched microorganisms shown to help restore microflora balance by enhancing commensal organism function. The seven strains in Probiotic Essentials Powder have been strategically selected based on research supporting their survivability and adherence to the intestinal tract. Probiotic Essentials comes in a powder form for easy administration to children.
My Spectrum Heroes™ Multivitamin and Mineral Plus was designed to support children's neurocognitive health. It contains a nourishing blend of essential vitamins, minerals, and active compounds to support the nutritional needs of the developing nervous system. The formulation also bridges nutritional gaps that are commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder.

My Spectrum Heroes™ Gut Immune Protect is the only purified, dairy-free source of immunoglobulin G (IgG), (also known as antibodies) available as a dietary supplement. Serum-derived bovine immunoglobulins (SBI) provide the highest IgG concentration available for GI and immune challenges where allergens are a significant concern. Pure IgG helps to maintain a healthy intestinal immune system by binding a broad range of microbes and toxins within the gut lumen. Gut Immune Protect provides 1,200 mg IgG in a one-scoop serving.
• Provides Concentrated Immunoglobulins to Enhance Mucosal Immunity
• Helps Maintain Microbial Balance
• Supports GI Barrier Health and Integrity
• Helps Maintain Normal Inflammatory Balance
My Spectrum Heroes™ Immuni-D Liquid is a convenient way to ensure kids maintain optimal vitamin D status. It delivers a targeted amount of vitamin D in an odorless, tasteless liquid that can be added to any beverage.
Boosts Immune Activity
Helps Support Bone and Dental Development
Helps Increase Musculoskeletal Strength
Aids in Mineral Absorption

The blend of natural ingredients in My Spectrum Heroes™ Fiber Balance Plus Powder is formulated to provide the ideal amount of bulk for normal digestive system function and long-term gastrointestinal maintenance.
Supports Bowel Regularity
Helps With Occasional Constipation
Supports Blood Sugar Balance