Self-treatment with high-dose vitamins and minerals
Diets that eliminate entire food groups
About 2 to 4 percent of all children suffer from hyperactivity with boys outnumbering girls about fivefold. Parents often describe the hyperactive child as being in perpetual motion-always on the move, disruptive, impulsive, and unable to concentrate. Many researches theorize that an imbalance in brain chemistry is responsible for the abnormal behavior, but a precise cause has not been identified.
In recent years, diet has been suggested as a possible cause of hyperactivity-a claim discounted by many experts. Although some nutritional deficiencies can certainly affect behavior, these almost never occur in industrialized countries, where malnutrition is seldom a problem.
Still, many parents and even some physicians believe that, at least for some children, there is a link.
Although some reports suggest that an additive-free diet helps a few children, Dr.feingold’s finding of marked improvement in a significant percentage cases has not been duplicated in scientific studies. Some pediatricians advise parents to try eliminating foods that are especially high in preservatives, dyes, and other additives-for example, hot dogs and other processed meats and some commercial baked goods-to see if there is any improvement. But avoiding all foods that contain natural salicylates is more problematic; there is not evidence that this actually helps, and it can lead to deficiencies of vitamin C, beta carotene, and other nutrients.
Caffeine has been linked to hyperactivity. Experts doubt that it actually causes the problem, but it may add to the restlessness of a hyperactive child. In any event, eliminating caffeine from a child’s diet won’t hurt.
Orthomolecular therapy-the use of markedly high doses of vitamins and minerals to treat behavioral and other problems-is advocated by some practitioners for hyperactivity. There is no evidence that this helps, but it is known that self-treating with megadose vitamins and minerals can cause serious nutritional imbalances and toxicity.