Many thanks for your question and as a mother of 3 boys including one who was also put in NICU at birth I do understand your concern. I also have been working with several children with very similar issues of anxiety and stress.
Interestingly, one of those has been diagnosed coeliac and I would encourage you to recheck this with your son because of the inherent inaccuracies with the standard blood tests. Either you could do the salivary test via Cyrex or the Cyrex blood test. These should be available in the next few weeks.
With regards to anxiety in children clearly there are many factors involved and nutritional therapy can help address any potential imbalances. I am not sure if you are aware of the Spectracell Nutrient tests but these are excellent in pinpointing key nutrients that may be insufficient.
It is, however, a blood test which you may feel is not suitable for your son. Regenerus labs are the suppliers of Spectracell.
Nutrition-wise you may wish to read the article in the journal ‘Advances in Mind Body Medicine’, the Fall 2012 issue by Mark Zell and Oliver Grundmann. A link to this can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/b993qoy
• Zell M, Grundmann O. An Orthomolecular approach to the prevention and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Advances in Mind Body Medicine. 2012 Fall:14- 28
To summarise, a number of nutrients have been linked to anxiety and the following supplements are suggested or studied with daily dosage linked to research studies – clearly these are much higher than RNIs and certainly higher than you may consider for a child.
Calcium – 2 gm
Magnesium – 0.6 – 1 gm
Vitamin B3 (niacinimide) – 2.5 gm
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) – 5- 10 gm
Zinc – 50 -80 mg
Magnesium is commonly used to help with anxiety and is useful for insomnia and nervousness too. Studies suggest 600-1000mg for adults daily. Similarly a vitamin B complex taken daily can be useful for anxiety disorders – he may inherently have a methylation problem – you can look into this via the Genova Genomics tests or the Spectracell tests have a MTFR test.
Vitamin C can help support adrenal function as it is rapidly depleted by the adrenal glands. Similarly stress may lead to low levels of calcium. A low calcium to magnesium level may also be a risk factor. In addition toxicity and liver health can interfere with sleep and so IgG food intolerances may be something to look into.
Food-wise if you are considering a gluten test or IgG keep the diet as varied as possible but otherwise I would consider cutting out gluten and possibly dairy to see if this has any effect. Protein rich foods regularly through the day, plenty of water as well would also be important.
Encouraging better sleep I think will be particularly important with your son as this insomnia must be affecting his mood and ability to cope at school. So this would probably be my first focus. You may wish to make changes to his bedroom. Ensure it is dark, no distractions, no electricals and so on.
Earthing sheets may help with some people. You may wish to restrict the television or computer around bedtime too. Lavender oil can have a calming effect, and perhaps a lavender oil burner for a short time at bedtime may be helpful too.
I presume he does not have blood sugar issues? – if you are concerned, making him a warming milky drink or milk alternative or using cherry active juice with a protein based snack may be helpful. If he is too tired to eat properly then I would try some protein type smoothies as well. One of the most effective supplements for sleep I think is Bio 3GB by Biotics Research.
This is also good for waking in the night. You can give this to him with stewed fruit or a yogurt about 20 mins before bedtime and then again, if he is able to swallow the tabs easily, during the night with water.
Bio-3B-G provides a low dose B vitamin complex, with the RDA of the B vits except for thiamin, which is 3X the RDA. Contrary to popular belief, this type of approach (i.e. supplying B vitamins at night) has consistently produced very successful results with those who cannot sleep through the night.
The B vitamins support the nervous system and help ensure a steady level of energy, without a dip, which is what often can lead to awakening.
Other supplements to consider
Zen (ARG) is a mix of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid) 550 mg & L-Theanine 200 mg, designed to provide a state of alert relaxation rather than aid sedation. It has a general calming effect that may also aid sleep, but it is not a sedative. It is non-addictive and is metabolised within 5 hours typically.
Zen (ARG) – take 1 capsule 1 hour before bedtime – http://tinyurl.com/89vstsf
As stress is considerable through the day consider using Stabilium (ARG) – in view of his age you could try 1-2 capsules in the morning http://tinyurl.com/3x35v63.
For a combination of calcium & magnesium consider this product rather than just Mg citrate: Bio-CMP (BR) – each tablet contains 200mg calcium and 100mg magnesium, 100mg potassium, http://tinyurl.com/c7d3h57. Take 1 in the morning and 1 at night.
I also think he may benefit from the liquid multi Aqueous Multi Plus (BRC) at 1tbsp daily.
Summary supplements to consider
• Zen (ARG) – take 1capsule 1 hour before bedtime
• Stabilium (ARG) – take 1-2 capsules in the morning
• Bio-CMP (BRC) – take 1 in the morning and 1 at night.
• Bio-3B-G (BRC) take 2 tabs 20 mins before bedtime
I hope this helps
Registered Nutritional Therapist Helen Perks is collaborating with Clinical Education to bring you the first-ever Functional Medicine book club for Practitioners.
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