Carolyn Dean, MD: Kids’ Health Matters
By Carolyn Dean, MD, ND,
Kids are our most precious resource. Yet they have become a dumping ground for more than 80,000 toxic chemicals—heavy metals, food preservatives and antibiotics. There is an alarming rise in childhood asthma, allergies, immune system disorders, ADHD, obesity and diabetes. The result is that the current generation of kids may not live longer than their parents.
Diabesity is the new term for the rise of diabetes in an overweight population. In 2010, 66 percent of adults are overweight or obese; 16 percent of children and adolescents are overweight and 34 percent are at risk. By 2015, 75 percent of adults will be overweight because the overweight children of today will be the obese adults of tomorrow. Being overweight is the number one “cause” of diabetes.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is labeled a mental disorder that develops in children. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that between 3 percent and 5 percent of preschool and school-age children have ADHD. That’s at least two million children in the U.S., or one in twenty kids.
I think that’s an underestimate. When I consult with parents of ADHD kids, they tell me that often at least one-third of their child’s class is on Ritalin or other ADHD medication. One of my clients in New York taught an after-school program for kids. Shockingly 11 of the 12 students were on Ritalin. So, I’m positive the NIMH numbers are too low.
Antibiotics and ADHD
Antibiotics are an overlooked cause of behavioral changes in kids. Antibiotics are overused for kids’ ear infections as well as colds and flus. Antibiotics can aggravate and even cause hyperactivity. They upset the stomach and intestines and their toxic byproducts can irritate the brain.
Antibiotics cause yeast overgrowth. They kill off good and bad bacteria and yeast leaps into the vacuum created. Yeasts that overgrow their territory become invasive. Their toxic waste products number about 178 and they irritate the intestinal lining to the point of causing a “leaky gut.” Undigested food molecules and yeast toxins flow freely through a leaky gut into the bloodstream, causing allergic reactions.
Dr. William Shaw at The Great Plains Laboratory finds high levels of toxic byproducts of yeast and harmful bacteria in the urine samples of children with ADHD. These results indicate an overgrowth of these microorganisms in the digestive tract. Good bacteria produce digestive enzymes and certain vitamins and police harmful microorganisms. When they are destroyed, a critical metabolic and defense system in the body is lost.
Medicating Symptoms of a Bad Diet
For many parents around the country, Ritalin has become a stipulation for their children continuing in school. Social agencies threaten, “If you don’t allow us to prescribe Ritalin for your ADHD child, we may decide that you are an unfit parent. We may decide to take your child away.” This drugging of children is fueled by teachers, principals and school counselors, none of whom have medical training. Even so, medicine is not the answer. ADHD is an assumption not a proven condition.
Ritalin Side Effects
In the International Journal of the Addictions, Richard Scaarnati wrote “An Outline of Hazardous Side Effects of Ritalin.” It’s a shocking list of symptoms that we are creating in our children in order to force them to conform.
- Paranoid delusions
- Paranoid psychosis
- Hypomanic and manic symptoms
- Activation of psychotic symptoms
- Toxic psychosis
- Visual hallucinations
- Auditory hallucinations
- Can surpass LSD in producing bizarre experiences
- Effects pathological thought processes
- Extreme withdrawal
- Terrified affect
- Started screaming
- Amphetamine-like psychosis
- Psychic dependence
- High-abuse potential
- Decreased REM sleep
- When used with antidepressants, one may see dangerous reactions including hypertension, seizures and hypothermia
- Brain damage may be seen with amphetamine abuse
According to Dr. Peter Breggin in Talking Back to Ritalin (2001), “Stimulants such as Ritalin and amphetamine . . . have grossly harmful impacts on the brain—reducing overall blood flow, disturbing glucose metabolism, and possibly causing permanent shrinkage or atrophy of the brain.”
Robert Whitaker delivers the following wake-up call in Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America (2010):
“. . . The rise of juvenile bipolar illness in this country . . . appears in lockstep with the prescribing of stimulants for ADHD and antidepressants for depression. . . . Once psychiatrists started putting `hyperactive’ children on Ritalin, they started to see prepubertal children with manic symptoms. Same thing happened when psychiatrists started prescribing antidepressants to children and teenagers. . . . The number of children and teenagers that have ended up `bipolar’ after being treated with a stimulant or an antidepressant is now well over one million.”
The Failure of Our Diet
Both parents working and the increasing number of broken families have led to social disruption on a broad scale. Parents have no time to cook real meals for their children. Fast food has become the diet of choice. Kids spend much of their non-school time wired—texting, on cell phones, watching TV, playing video games, and on the Internet. Physical activities are not encouraged at school or by parents because that requires more supervision than sitting over a Game Boy.
A child sees an estimated 10,000 junk food commercials per year. Billions of dollars of advertising messages promote sugar-coated cereal, liquid candy (sodas), and empty-calorie junk food. And not only that: when food is grown on depleted soil, the nutrient content plummets.
We don’t even find out the amount of nutrients contained in foods. Labeling doesn’t give us a clue about their vitamin or mineral content. And when foods are researched, the bias is obvious. When the food industry funds its own research, invariably the food is claimed to be healthy; sugar is exonerated and pesticides, food dyes and food additives are said to be harmless.
Soy and corn, two incredibly allergenic foods, are cheap commodities subsidized by the government. They are largely genetically engineered (GMO) and have become the basic foods in the school lunch program and in the cattle industry.
Advice on Kids’ Diets
My advice is to eliminate foods that are toxic, GMO, high caloric and not nutritious and turn to organic, locally grown produce. The good foods are there; we just have to bring them into the home and teach our children to make the right choices. I go into this topic in detail in many of my books and articles, including my latest book: Kids’ Health—a doctor’s guide for parents.
My Recommendations for Children’s Supplements
You can find out more about the reasons why in my book, but the following supplements are very important for a growing child. I’ve been recommending this combination for years, especially magnesium, zinc and methylated B vitamins.* Kids with ADHD and autism are deficient in these minerals and can’t properly process some B vitamins unless they are methylated.
- Magnesium: 200 mg per day
- Calcium, in balance with magnesium: 200 mg per day
- Zinc: 2–5 mg per day
- Essential fatty acids—EPA and DHA: 150–200 mg per day of each
- B vitamins in methylated form
- Vitamin C: 200 mg per day
- RDA of vitamins A, D and E, plus trace minerals
What’s the Best Form of Supplements?
I recommend non-chewable supplements. Gummy vitamins stick to the teeth and can cause cavities. Chewable pills, if they contain calcium, can scratch the enamel of teeth. A liquid form of supplements is better absorbed. The sweeteners should be non-sucrose, like stevia, organic agave and/or xylitol. Above all, make sure there is no aspartame in your child’s supplement. This is a dangerous artificial sweetener that contains wood alcohol and can break down into formaldehyde.
What’s the best source for kids’ supplements? The one I currently recommend has all the components that I’ve listed above. It’s called Kids Natural Calm Multi. I’m happy to say that I’ve been getting wonderful feedback about it from parents.
*methylated; methylation (noun): a metabolic process within the body that uses methyl groups to perform functions that include regulating levels of histamine (a key factor in allergic responses), protecting DNA, promoting detoxification, producing neurotransmitters, and carrying out other brain functions.
1.Belluck, Pam. “Children’s Life Expectancy Being Cut Short by Obesity.” New York Times. March 17, 2005. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/17/health/17obese.html;
Olshansky, SJ, et. al. “A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century.” NEJM. March 17, 2005. 352:1138–45.
2.The Great Plains Laboratory. “Ear Infections (Otitis Media) & ADD/ADHD.” http://www.greatplainslaboratory.com/home/eng/adhdconnections.asp.
3.Rappoport, Jon. “Hidden Facts about Ritalin.” NewsWithViews.com. July 5, 2010. http://www.newswithviews.com/Rappoport/jon101.htm.
4.Scaarnati, Richard. “An Outline of Hazardous Side Effects of Ritalin (Methylphenidate).” Int. J. Addict. 1986. July:21(7):837–41.
5.Breggin, Peter. Talking Back to Ritalin: What Doctors Aren’t Telling You about Stimulants and ADHD. Revised edition. Da Capo Press. January 2001.
6.Whitaker, Robert. Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Crown. April 2010.