Few parents quickly and easily decide to put their child on psychotropic medications, or even something as common as stimulants for ADHD. Even when a child or adolescent's behavior is uncontrollable, most parents look for alternatives to medication - therapy, counseling, behavior modification, and more.
There are times, however, when the child's treatment team says it's time to try something else in order to stimulate a change in behavior. For many families, this means Risperdal, Seroquel, or Zyprexa for their child. Some families, however, are trying nutritional supplements as an alternative, or an addition to prescription medications.
As more and more is learned about how the brain works, there is increasing evidence to support the fact that well-functioning neurological systems require adequate amounts of certain vitamins and minerals.
A few years back, Omega 3 fatty acids began to be used to help kids with learning challenges, and for kids who had begun their lives in neglectful, abusive, or stressful situations. Omega 3, found in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines, is thought to improve the synapses in the brain. Omega 3 may make it easier for signals to cross that gap between brain cells.
A BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) article about Omega 3 discussed a study undertaken in England with more than 100 school children. The results are expected to show "a statistically significant improvement in school performance." The study results also say, "This does not mean that every child benefited from the treatment - many did not. But . . . about 40% of children showed some clear improvement."
More recently a mineral and vitamin combination called EMPowerplus has been touted by some individuals and parents as an alternative treatment to people who suffer from various forms of mental illness. A study reported in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Volume 14, Number 1, 2004, says, "Most would agree that good nutrition is fundamental for good physical health. In contrast, the role of nutrition in maintaining good mental health is still a matter of considerable debate in spite of the fact that the importance of micronutrients (i.e., vitamins and minerals) for normal brain function is well established by decades of scientific research."
Research into the impact that nutrition and nutritional supplements have in relation to behavior and mental health issues is fairly new. Studies are ongoing about the brain and related neurological issues and no one can yet know what the end result will be as to the efficacy of using nutritional supplements. Parents, however, should educate themselves about possible connections between behavior and nutrition.