Multivitamin May Help Children’s Mood, Behavior
Children prone to mood swings and outbursts of anger may benefit from taking a high potency multivitamin-multimineral (MVM) supplement, according to a study in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology (2002;12:205–19). The findings of this study suggest that increasing the intake of certain nutrients may help normalize brain function in children who display signs of altered brain chemistry.
In this pilot study, nutritional intervention with a proprietary high potency MVM (E.M. Power) was evaluated on two children with a prolonged history of mood and anger problems. The first child was an 8-year-old boy diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, mood lability, and explosive rage. He demonstrated angry outbursts at least twice a day and was aggressive toward other children at school. His parents reported he was obsessed with guns and knives.
The second child was a 12-year-old boy with pervasive developmental disorder (a condition similar to autism in which social interactions and learning are impaired), plus severe attention-deficit, mood swings, and obsessive thoughts. Both children took 32 capsules per day of the MVM for four months. Measurements of mood and behavior were recorded daily by their parents, with periodic evaluations by their healthcare provider.
After four months of treatment, both boys had more stable moods, fewer and shorter angry outbursts, and a decrease in obsessive thoughts. However, the second child continued to have attention difficulties and was treated with methylphenidate (Ritalin®), which helped him maintain his focus in the classroom.
Both children’s parents discontinued treatment after several weeks of stable symptoms, but found that symptoms returned to initial levels shortly after stopping the therapy. After the MVM was started again, both boys’ symptoms significantly improved and a maintenance amount of eight capsules a day of the MVM was continued thereafter. Although both children improved significantly, neither child had complete resolution of their symptoms. No adverse side effects were reported in either child.
Several studies have shown a link between nutritional deficiencies and mood disorders. One study found that some people with depression have low blood zinc levels and that the severity of depression correlated with the severity of zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency has also been associated with attention deficit disorder in some children and aggressive behavior in male adults. Iron deficiency may contribute to irritability and aggression, as well. Other studies suggest that deficiencies in selenium or chromium may also play a role in mood and behavior problems.
Although this pilot study does not prove that nutritional supplementation will benefit all children with mood or behavior disorders, it suggests that some children may have an underlying nutritional deficiency or metabolic defect that can be overcome by taking the MVM complex. Taking 32 capsules a day of this specific product may be the greatest limitation, since many children may be unable to swallow that many pills. It is also unknown whether these boys would have had similar results if they had taken fewer capsules. Powder forms of the MVM may be more palatable for some children and could increase compliance. Since this was a proprietary formula, it is unknown whether these benefits would be seen with other types of high potency MVMs, especially at such high amounts. Taking 32 capsules of other MVMs could be potentially toxic and should therefore be avoided. Children taking conventional medications should consult a physician before taking high amounts of a MVM, to ensure that no drug-nutrient interactions risks exist.
Darin Ingels, ND, MT (ASCP), received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Dr. Ingels is the author of The Natural Pharmacist: Lowering Cholesterol (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000). He currently is in private practice at New England Family Health Associates located in Southport, CT, where he specializes in environmental medicine and allergies. Dr. Ingels is a regular contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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