Preservatives and ADHD

The only preservative that has been studied with regards to ADHD is sodium benzoate. An interesting study performed in Ireland on teenagers showed that while it takes a considerable amount of effort to consume the amount of food coloring that has been found to contribute to ADHD symptoms, most teenagers far exceed the amount of sodium benzoate that is thought to be problematic.

Sodium benzoate, potasium benzoate, and calcium benzoate are preservatives that may deplete levels of amino acids such as L-carnitine and glycine. Sodium benzoate is used medically to treat certain conditions and one of the side effects is decreased urine carnitine.

The brain neurotransmitters that control the symptoms of ADHD are made up of amino acids. A genetic problem with amino acid metabolism is being studied as a cause of ADHD. It is probably a good idea to avoid anything that may deplete amino acids. Supplementing with L-carnitine is possible but this supplementation (for reasons that are not entirely clear) has not be all that effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD.

The issue of 'allergies' and pro-inflammatory states are being studied as a cause of ADHD as well. Preliminary studies indicate that people with ADHD and inattention (ADHD-I)  have increased levels of pro-inflammatory reactions that may be caused by true allergies, by reactions to environmental factors, by genetic predisposition to sensitivities, or by God only knows what.

I will research this more but this minute I am off to New Orleans. Be thinking 'cool' thoughts for us, we would like to keep heat stroke at bay.

Am J Psychiatry. 2010 Jun 15. [Epub ahead of print]
The Role of Histamine Degradation Gene Polymorphisms in Moderating the Effects of Food Additives on Children's ADHD Symptoms.


Stevenson J, Sonuga-Barke E, McCann D, Grimshaw K, Parker KM, Rose-Zerilli MJ, Holloway JW, Warner JO
Arch Dis Child. 1991 Jul;66(7):873-5.
Alteration of urinary carnitine profile induced by benzoate administration.
Sakuma T. Department of Paediatrics, Nagoya City University Medical School, Japan.

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