Saturday, November 21, 2009

10. Stunted Growth and Vitamin D and Calcium Deficiency

In my article on obesity, I argued that calcium deficiency plays an important role because calcium is necessary for the release of insulin from the pancreas and for the uptake of glucose by the muscles. Obesity is strongly associated with both calcium deficiency and insulin resistance, and I argue that the fat cells compensate by inserting themselves into the energy chain. They take upon themselves the task of converting glucose to fat, and they program the muscles to strongly prefer fat over glucose as an energy source. In the process, they hoard calcium and vitamin D, and cause measurable deficiencies in these important nutrients in the blood serum.

It is likely that some ADHD children may suffer from calcium deficiency as well, mainly as a consequence of vitamin D deficiency, a syndrome that is at epidemic proportions in the U.S (Vitamin D Deficiency Epidmemic). Probably the most significant nutritional role of vitamin D is its ability to promote both the absorption of calcium from the gut and the transport of calcium across membranes, a process that is extremely important in many aspects of metabolism and brain function. ADHD children tend to be stunted in growth, and their levels of growth hormone are abnormally low. Extending the length of a bone requires an enormous amount of calcium. Thus, by keeping the bones short, the calcium that would have gone into bone growth can be diverted to assure an adequate supply of insulin and an efficient glucose uptake mechanism in the muscle and fat cells.

It could be that ADHD children also sacrifice calcium levels in the brain in order to assure enough calcium for the efficient metabolism of glucose, which is extremely essential when the body is relying mainly on glucose as an energy source. Evidence that calcium channels in the brain are important for memory comes from the surprising result from a study involving 1,268 people who were being treated for high blood pressure (Calcium Blockers and Memory). The study found that people who take calcium blockers to lower blood pressure score less well on memory tests than people who use other medicines to lower blood pressure. Studies using Magnetic resonance Imaging (MRI) verified brain damage in the white matter of the brains of the people who used calcium blockers.

If ADHD children are deficient in calcium in their brains, they are also likely less able to utilize ketone bodies as an energy source in the brain. This conclusion comes indirectly from studies involving alzheimer's patients. It has been found that alzheimer's patients' brains are deficient in the ability to utilize glucose for fuel, and, as a result, regulatory control mechanisms have led to an increased supply of calcium in the brain, which plays an essential role in the metabolism of ketone bodies [13]. This allows them to efficiently use ketone bodies instead of glucose as a fuel source. The converse of this observation is that reduced calcium in the brain would interfere with ketone body metabolism, leaving the brain even more vulnerable to situations of reduced blood glucose levels.

Vitamin D itself plays an important role in brain function, in addition to its influence on calcium, as implied by the existence of a wide distribution of vitamin D receptors throughout the brain [20] (Vitamin D and the Brain) . Vitamin D also affects proteins in the brain that are directly involved in learning and memory, as well as motor control. It may be that, for some ADHD children, insufficient vitamin D is even the main cause of their symptoms.


TedHutchinson said...

In order to maximize the uptake of calcium from diet we require a 25(OH)D level of above 32ng or 80nmol/l. Heaney explains the issue here in his You Tube Video
Whats a Vitamin D Deficiency?

Grassrootshealth D Action are a charity offering cost price Vitamin D testing as part of a trial.
Levels above 55ng 137.5nmol/l are associated with least incidence of chronic illness.
It generally requires 1000iu for each 25lbs to achieve that level.

Calcium is far more important to the body and brain than merely bone structure. Our brains have roughly 10 astrocytes for each neurone and while modern imaging techniques display pretty pictures of neurone activity burning glucose they don't display the activity of astroctytes communicating with neurones using calcium
The neuroprotective role of astrocytes supplying ketones to the brain when glucose isn't available should not be overlooked, nor should the requirement for a better omega 3 to omega 6 ratio

Jeanie said...

My daughter was not obese, but had many symptoms affecting body and brain alike. One of the problems found when the doctors quit calling everything "mental" and starting to LOOK, was a major problem with calcium/vitamin D and osteoporosis!

Good blog!

The ADHD Treatment Guide said...

I just found your blog, Stephanie, and I have to say, it's great! It seems like we're so much on the same path!

I think the connection between ADHD and vitamin D and calcium is grossly under-explored, and you've touched on some of the key features, namely the neuroprotective role of vitamin D and the connection with calcium and calcium regulated processes.

Much of the literature on vitamin D and psychiatric disorders is mixed, even those studies on vitamin D levels and seasonal affective disorders and depression, so I think we need to proceed with caution before jumping to any conclusions. But I think you balanced things very well in this posting.

Keep up the great work. I look forward to reading more of your blogging!

TedHutchinson said...

Low serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) among psychiatric out-patients in Sweden: Relations with season, age, ethnic origin and psychiatric diagnosis.the diagnoses that have been hypothetically linked to developmental (prenatal) vitamin D deficiency, schizophrenia and autism, had the lowest 25-OHD levels in this adult sample, supporting the notion that vitamin D deficiency may not only be a predisposing developmental factor but also relate to the adult patients' psychiatric state. This is further supported by the considerable psychiatric improvement that coincided with vitamin D treatment in some of the patients whose deficiency was treated.

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