Could This Deficiency Be an Underlying Cause of ADD?

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Interviewer: In your research, you go into nutritional options for some of these behavior conditions.  Is there a certain nutrient that these patients might be deficient in?  Is that what you're finding?  Or is it something else?

Dr. William Walsh: Well, it's individualized.  ADHD is a name given to several completely different conditions, and one has to find out what their individual biochemistry is.  Probably the most common thing we see is zinc deficiency.  I would say 90 percent of the children we've seen with ADHD, whether it's academic or behavior, are either low or very low in blood zinc levels.  So, one of the things we always want to do is normalize that.  Now, people who are low in zinc tend to be elevated in copper.  Copper tends to be high in people with hyperactivity and ADHD. I think it's 68 percent of all ADHD cases, and we have a huge chemistry database for these people, are unusually high in copper.  Copper has a direct effect on the synthesis of norepinephrine, which is an important neurotransmitter, and it comes from dopamine.  And if you're high in copper, you'll be low in dopamine, and too high in norepinephrine.  And that means anxiety.  And actually, what Ritalin does, is elevates dopamine.  Well we can also adjust the neurotransmitters by just normalizing their metals.  Not necessarily having to go to a foreign molecule with side effects.

Interviewer: So, in a bigger picture, it seems like we've seen a rise in these behavior conditions over the last 20 years, give or take.  Does that correspond to deficiencies then?  Is there some sort of reason why the two are connected?

Dr. William Walsh: I think the biggest problem is over diagnosis.  The National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Center for Disease Control, they say that the actual incidence of ADHD is children is about 8 or 9%.  They used to think it was 4.5%.  Well now they're saying 8 or 9%.  Well, there are entire cities, like Wheaton, Illinois, which is near where I live, 38% of all the children are taking stimulant medication.  And if you go to West Virginia, and there are entire states where there are maybe five times as many people taking the medication as actually have the condition.  So there's an extraordinary amount of over-diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and use of medications where it's really not appropriate.  And then, of course, there are those that actually have the condition, and do benefit from the medications.

Interviewer: So we're talking about, in a lot of cases, a deficiency of zinc being one of the minerals.  Where does that come from?  Does that come from the genes of the parents?  Is it something that's preconception?  Is it the diet that the baby is getting?  Where can you pinpoint that?

Dr. William Walsh: Sure.  All of your zinc comes from your diet.  But the way zinc is processed in the body is very beautifully maintained by the body.  There are proteins in the body that regulate zinc levels.  And even if a person were to chew on bars of zinc and get too much of it, if that system's working, then your blood levels would be normal.  We find a lot of people have a metal metabolism disorder involving copper and zinc, especially in behavior and learning disorders.  But there are other imbalances.  For example, methylation disorders.  People who are either overmethylated or undermethylated.  There are people who have what we call Pyrrole Disorders, which is a condition that maybe 25% of all ADHD kids have.  And that is determined with a urine test.  And these people are extraordinarily low in B6 and zinc.  And because they're so low in B6, these are the kids who have reading disorders.  You need B6 for short-term memory.  And we've had a lot of children diagnosed with dyslexia or reading disorders, and all we really had to do was normalize their B6 levels.  There are also children who are malabsorbers.  They tend to be very slender, and they don't process foods normally.  And in that case, we just need to give them sort of a full spectrum of vitamins and nutrients to compensate for their bodies' inefficiency at getting these things in the body and doing the good they're supposed to do. 


ADD and ADHD seem to be diagnosed with more frequency than years ago. Dr. William Walsh discusses one of the problems with not only the diagnosis, but potentially one of the underlying causes. Find out how a mineral deficiency could be linked to attention deficit issues and how it could be an underlying cause and why!

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