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Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Learning disorders,

Mood, and Behaviour
By Anthony DiPasquale

These 'conditions are often nothing more than the body needing nutritional balance, and symptoms presenting in the brain. The research history and experience showing the nutritional biochemical relationship is well established and clear (and not as popular as profitable pharmaceutical 'quick fixes', which are harmful to health, rather than helpful.) The above conditions may seem different, but they are often seen together, with a lot of causative factors in common. Treatments that are helpful for any one brain symptom, tend to help all brain symptoms, from autism, to bipolar disorder.

Simple nutritional deficiencies are a common contributor to the above symptoms, and research shows positive effects on 'diagnosed' young people from a simple multivitamin/mineral. Other research shows positive effects from a simple iron supplement (1)(a commonly deficient mineral for younger people.)

Contrary to the official
position of some doctors and nutritionists, sugar in the diet is positively associated with ADD/ADHD, in a dose dependant relationship. More sugar = more hyperactivity and lack of focus. The research demonstrates this negative relationship with refined sugar only (not natural unprocessed sources of sugar such as fruit.)

Hypoglycemia is strongly associated with many central nervous system symptoms such as depression, confusion, anxiety, and irritability in all ages, as well as ADD/ADHD in younger people.
Hypoglycemia is often undetected. Doctors and RD's rarely or never consider it, even though it is well proven in the medical literature to be common, and a powerful cause of negative central nervous system (CNS) symptoms. To treat hypoglycemia, a low- allergen diet, with whole foods, adequate protein, and minimal refined foods, is quite effective.

‘X’ Refined Foods

Eating more whole foods, and less refined foods helps us be lean and healthy, as well as happier and better learners. Whole foods are unprocessed, and include all fresh or cooked fruits and vegetables, as well as natural fish and organic meats and dairy products. Grains need to be whole and not white; brown rice and brown bread instead of their white counterparts. White sugar (and brown sugar) and products made with them, like pop and sweets are to be avoided, inasmuch as we want to improve our health.
Natural dried fruit is a healthy ‘sweet’. Make sure not to lose the diet while on vacation in places like Panama City Beach hotels. A good tourist destination for those on a whole foods diet is Samana Dominican Republic, with an abundance of fresh fish and farm fresh fruits and vegetables.

Good Fats

research and treatment of ADD/ADHD and many other brain symptoms has been done in northern Europe, with essential fatty acid supplements which include GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid). Sources of these two brain essential fats include evening primrose oil (GLA), and fish oil (DHA).
Omega 3 Miracle

Omega 3 fats, especially from fish support immunity, and are also anti-inflammatory. They directly support brain health, and help stabilize blood sugar, as well. So, in short, omega 3’s are nearly miraculous in their wide-ranging effects. Mood and learning ability benefit from a long term healthy intake (2, 3)

The research shows improvement in dyslexia and ADD with fish oil, in addition to the heart health benefits which we have already heard of.

Among other proven negative learning factors are heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, and chronic inner ear infections (associated with early antibiotic use/ abuse).

Heavy Metal Detox

Lead is commonly elevated in people with with learning disorders or ADD (4). A deficiency of zinc encourages lead accumulation in the body. The good news is that the reverse works just as well. Supplementing with zinc will restore low levels, aid brain and immune health, and help the body eliminate lead.

Manganese also helps displace lead, and is also an important brain nutrient.

I recommend 25-50mg per day of zinc (Zn), and 15-30mg per day of manganese (Mn). Magnesium (Mg) should be mentioned because it is also an important player in brain function, tending to reduce anxiety. We need more of this mineral; I often recommend 300-500mg, taken before bed (it deepens sleep).

One group of researchers found that subjects with dyslexia had more lead, cadmium, and mercury in their bodies than normal (4). For everyone, taking more of the minerals mentioned above, with high amounts of vitamin C, helps to clear the heavy metals out of the body. Eating seaweed is also very helpful- buy Canadian seaweed, like dulse- it is of higher quality than asian- sourced seaweed.

Inner Ear Health, Dyslexia and Learning

In the 1960’s, Dr Alfred Tomatis, a surgeon, began to connect hearing function with the functioning of the entire brain. When our hearing is affected (as for example, during and after an inner ear infection), other areas of brain function are affected. In other words, your mood relates to your hearing. Your ability to learn, to remember, even your thinking ability relates to your hearing. Today, there are centres called “Tomatis” centres, which treat everything from anxiety to autism, by “training” the ear.

Dr Harold Levinson, practicing in New York state, also addresses brain health through ear health, but by focusing on inner ear health. He has had great success with dyslexia and other learning impairments, as well as with phobias, anxiety, and antisocial behaviour. He has found that the inner ear directly effects our sense of balance and coordination, as well as our orientation, and ability to think and focus.

How do you look after your own ear health? The iner ear is a moist, undisturbed environment, which is potentially attractive to pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Inner ear health is dependant on a clear Eustachian tube, which connects it to the sinuses.

What we need to ensure is that

-the Eustachian tube does not get inflamed

-the immune system is strong, keeping the inner ear clear of pathogens

-the mucous membranes (sinus, inner ear) are healthy, and not backed up with mucous

Inner Ear Health How-To

To keep inflammation down in the inner ear, a steady, healthy intake of vitamin C and water is where we start. Common allergens, especially milk for younger children, can be substituted with goat’s milk, or soy yogourt (regular soy milk is also a common allergen). Gluten (from wheat, oats, spelt, rye, kamut) may need to be eliminated, as well. Try removing one suspected allergen at a time, and look for improvement.

Pancreatin (an enzyme supplement) is a great anti inflammatory which strengthens the immune system, and is beneficial for reducing allergies.

N-acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) helps reduce excessive mucous, benefiting the inner ear, stuffy noses, sinuses, and even people with Cystic Fibrosis. It is also quite an immune booster.

NAC and vitamin C together are an especially good immune tonic. I would definitely add 10-30mg of Zinc, as well, for mucous membrane health and immune function.

Each example of one person has individual needs for their diet and supplements. Seeing a wholistic-minded nutritionist, or a naturopath is a good way to start to determine those needs.

This article has been submitted by Anthony DiPasquale, a wholistic Nutritionist
with a practice in Toronto. He may be reached at

Tel; 416.680.3533


1. Sarah Ringold. Iron Deficiency in Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Journal of the American Medical Association 2005; 293 (5) pp532

2. L.J. Stevens et al., Omega-3 fatty acids in boys with behavior, learning, and health problems. Physiology of Behaviour 1996 (59), pp. 915

3. Richardson, A. J. The importance of omega-3 fatty acids for behaviour, cognition and mood.Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition, 2003; (47) pp. 92

4. Grant, E. C. G. Howard, J. M. Davies, S. Chasty, H. Hornsby, B. Galbraith, J Zinc deficiency in children with dyslexia: concentrations of zinc and other minerals in sweat and hair. British Medical Journal, 1988; (296)pp. 607.

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