Know the Signs of Common Nutrient Deficiencies and Impact on Your Child’s Well-Being

The standard American diet lacks the essential nutritional elements you and/or your child’s body needs to function optimally. This is a sad truth that many people are unaware of and as a result may spend a long time suffering from emotional, behavioral, and physical unwellness with no relief. It is important to rule out if nutritional deficiencies are the hidden cause of suffering. Below are the four (although there are others) main nutrients to explore for any deficiencies by knowing the signs.

1-Magnesium. Is the most common nutritional deficiency in the population. Helps support bone health, assists in energy production, blood pressure regulation, calcium metabolism, muscle function, bowel function and memory. Magnesium also has calming effects on the nervous system. When magnesium is deficient the following (although not limited to) can occur:

• Easy startle responses
• Sleep problems
• Sound/Light sensitivities
• Excessive Yawning
• Tremors/Tics
• Aggression
• Anxiety/Fears
• Inattention
• Salt Craving
• Memory and Learning Problems
• Mood dysregulation (emotional reactivity; irritability, aggression)
• Constipation

2. Vitamin D. Critical to bone growth, cognitive function, immunity and mood. When vitamin D is deficient the following (although not limited to) can occur:

• Red ring around lips-chronic chapped lips
• Profuse Sweating (night sweats)
• Bone Pain
• Rashes/Eczema
• Frequent Infections

3. Iron. Helps the body make red blood cells and helps the body effectively carry oxygen. When Iron is deficient the main symptoms include:

• Fatigue
• Pale/dull skin
• Thin/sparse hair
• Trouble Breathing (hemoglobin carries oxygen throughout the body)

4. Zinc. Important for immune function, brain development, muscle tone, and transport of vitamin A. When Zinc is deficient the following (although not limited to) can occur:

• Poor eye contact
• Picky eating due to altered taste perception at taste buds and in brain
• White spots/lines on nails
• Sensory related issues
• Delays in growth or language
• Low muscle tone
• Pica (eating nonfood substances)

If you suspect your child may have deficiencies in one or more of the nutrients/vitamins mentioned above, then it is advised that he/she work with a Developmental Pediatrician, Integrative and Functional Medicine Practitioner, or a Pediatric Nutritionist. Supplements should be used in a safe and thoughtful way.

Maria Kanakos, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Useful resources include:

“The ADHD and Autism Nutritional Supplement Handbook” by Dana Godbout Laake, R.D.H., M.S. L.D.N., and Pamela J. Compart, M.D.

“Cure Your Child with Food; the Hidden Connection Between Nutrition and Childhood Ailments” by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND

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