As a parent, it can be difficult to keep up with all the information about your child’s health, especially if they are suffering from conditions like attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). It is complex and multifactorial. ADHD is the most common childhood neurobehavioral disorder, affecting between five and ten percent of school-aged children. There is much evidence to suggest that an imbalance of neurotransmitters (dopamine and noradrenalin) plays a central role.
Research suggests iron levels may play a role in the severity of ADHD symptoms experience by a child. The link between deficient iron levels and ADHD is not completely clear, but there have been some interesting studies to date.
Iron helps regulate dopamine and noradrenalin production, as well. In animal studies, iron deficiency decreases the density and activity of dopamine receptors, meaning the dopamine present is unable to be used effectively by the brain. Serum ferritin levels (which are a marker of iron stores in the body) have been observed to be significantly lower in children with ADHD when compared to levels of children without the disorder.
Remember, it is merely one of many links in a very complex chain contributing to the condition. Dispite that, trials have been published where iron supplementation to children with ADHD and low serum ferritin have been monitored to observe possible the effects. The majority of this current research supports the idea that supplementing with iron significantly improves the severity of ADHD symptoms.
Children with ADHD and low iron can show signs of increased irritability and inattentiveness, depression, poor memory, and may even have symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. If you are wondering if your child has low iron levels, speak with a medical doctor or naturopathic physician about testing serum ferritin levels and the potential for supplementation – do not supplement without the results of a blood test and your physician’s approval (excess iron has another set of potential challenges). Naturopathic physicians are also well suited to provide strategies for increasing iron levels beyond supplementation.
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