If you’re like me, you’re probably alarmed to hear so much about the prevalence of “mental disorders,” particularly among children. It seems that every year there are more and more disorders are emerging, along with psychotropic medications to treat them. However, as the mother of three grown-up, mentally healthy children and with a strong background and experience in nutritional research, I counsel mothers to be careful before mistaking your children’s odd behavior with a mental illness. It turns out the symptoms of malnourishment and mental disorders are actually quite similar in children.
Even just the signs of a deficiency in B vitamins will sounds familiar to you as the symptoms of childhood mental disease. Deficiency in Vitamin B1 can result in fatigue, poor memory, irritability, and insomnia. A B2 deficiency can cause depression. Deficiencies of B3 may begin as depression, but untreated may progress to psychosis or even dementia. Deficiencies in Biotin may cause a variety of problems, including skin disorders and eczema, dandruff or hair loss, fatigue, depression, even hallucinations.
Children can also suffer from a classic case of low blood sugar. Studies show that breakfasts rich in protein keep the body’s blood sugar level higher and more stable than breakfasts such as, say, the American breakfast staple of sugar-packed cereals. Kids are bound to peak in the morning and then crash later in the day, exhibiting hyperactivity and lethargy during the school day.
The consequences of improperly diagnosing a mental illness instead of treating malnourishment in a child can be severe. If you care about your child and children in general, it is imperative that you and your child’s teachers learn the crucial difference between children’s mental disorders and inadequate nutrition.