These Lifestyle Factors Could Cause ADHD

ADHD develops from a complex interaction between genetics and environment. It’s believed that people who develop ADHD inherit a susceptibility to environmental influences, then diverse environmental or lifestyle factors change the way genes function – making changes that can lead to ADHD.

The lifestyle factors that could cause ADHD fall into two broad categories: diet and toxins. At my practice, Wellness at Century City in Los Angeles, California, I can screen for heavy metals, chemical toxins and nutritional deficiencies, then create a plan to safely correct the problem in children and adults with ADHD.

Exposure to lead

Exposure to lead is associated with a higher risk for the hyperactive and impulsive behaviors of ADHD. The link to ADHD exists even when children have blood levels of lead that fall below the CDC-defined level of concern, adding ADHD to the list of neurodevelopmental problems that can develop from low levels of lead exposure.

While exposure to too much lead is harmful for everyone, unborn babies and young children have the greatest risk because they’re more susceptible to absorbing and retaining lead. Whether lead is inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through their skin, it acts as a poison, causing:

Children are most often exposed to lead from lead-based paint in older houses and lead-contaminated dust. Other sources include water that flows through old lead pipes, contaminated soil, and some toys, hobby and sports objects. I can run tests to determine whether your child has toxic lead, then use treatment such as oral chelation therapy to remove the lead from their system.

Nutritional deficiencies

Healthy brain development and normal brain functioning depend on a long list of nutrients, so deficiencies may contribute to or worsen symptoms of ADHD. Some of the possible deficiencies include:

Mineral imbalances

There’s a strong association between low levels of three minerals – iron, zinc and copper – and a higher risk of developing ADHD. Other minerals such as magnesium may also factor into ADHD.

B vitamin deficiency

A deficiency of B vitamins can lead to neurologic abnormalities because these nutrients are needed for nerves to work properly. Vitamin B9 is essential for the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which helps control impulsive behavior and improve mental focus. A lack of vitamins B12 and B6 can lead to hyperactivity. Supplementing with B vitamins helps improve ADHD symptoms in children who are deficient.

Amino acid deficiency

Amino acids are needed for your brain to produce dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters associated with ADHD. Children who don’t consume enough protein may be more susceptible to ADHD because they don’t get the full complement of amino acids. Some children with ADHD have nearly 50% lower levels of the amino acid tryptophan, which is important for attention and is essential for producing both dopamine and serotonin.

Exposure to toxic environmental chemicals

Exposure to toxic chemicals can affect the brain’s wiring and lead to ADHD. Many chemicals in the environment are strongly suspected of causing ADHD or they’ve been proven to influence its development. Two examples include:

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are used to make products more resistant to stains, grease, and water. As a result, they’re used to coat cookware, make carpets stain resistant, and make clothes waterproof. PFCs are also used in some food packaging materials and they contaminate the soil and water. The evidence available to date suggests that children with higher blood levels of PFC have a higher risk of ADHD compared to children with low levels.

Organophosphate pesticides

About 37 different pesticides belong to a class of chemicals called organophosphates. These chemicals kill insects by disrupting their brains. Unfortunately, they’re toxic and can harm the brains of people too. Children with detectable levels of these chemicals have twice the odds of developing ADHD compared to children with undetectable levels.

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