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ADHD in Children Health Center

Food Dye and ADHD

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What is in food dye? continued...

There are two types of approved color additives - dyes and lakes. Dyes are water-soluble and usually come in the form of powders, granules, or liquids. Lakes are not water-soluble. They are found in products containing fats and oils.

Some food colorings are synthetically produced. Examples of these color additives include FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2 and FD&C Green No. 3. Other food colorings come from pigments of vegetables, minerals, or animals. Examples of these natural additives include beta-carotene, grape skin extract, caramel color, and saffron.

Does sugar cause symptoms of ADHD?

Processed sugars and carbohydrates may have an effect on a child’s activity level. These sugars produce a rapid increase in blood glucose levels because they enter the bloodstream so quickly. A child may become more active due to an adrenaline rush produced by this blood sugar spike.

Decreased activity in the child is sometimes noted as the adrenaline levels fall. However, there has been no proof to date that sugar actually causes ADHD.

How does diet influence ADHD symptoms?

It’s important to always consult your child’s doctor before trying a dietary treatment for ADHD. Based on the findings of the study discussed above, the U.K. Food Standards Agency advised parents of children with ADHD to eliminate food additives from their diet. The Agency also encouraged companies to remove artificial coloring from food products. In the U.S., though, the FDA still considers artificial food colors to be safe when used properly.

Parents are encouraged to try eliminating certain foods from their children’s diet if they feel these foods affect their children's behavior in negative ways. Some experts theorize, though, that behavioral changes may be noted in children following an elimination diet simply because of a change in the way the family interacts while on the diet. It’s also important to not be too restrictive with your child’s diet. The reason is you want to avoid nutritional deficiencies. Dieticians and doctors can help you devise a healthy eating plan for your children.

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