Manganese, Soy Milk and ADHD

Manganese and ADHD
There appears to be an increased risk of Manganese toxicity in infants who are fed soy based infant formula.Manganese is a necessary nutrient but soy based infant formulas have 50 times the amount of manganese that is found in breast milk.

Increased manganese levels have been found in the hair of people incarcerated for violent crimes and is thought to cause DNA changes that can cause behavioral disorders such as ADHD. The neurological symptoms seen with manganese toxicity include irritability and aggression.

Many children and adults with ADHD have food intolerance issues that worsen their symptoms. Nutritionists often advise parents of children with ADHD to remove dairy from their diet and studies have shown that removing dairy and/or gluten from the diets of children with ADHD often improves symptoms.

Switching from milk to soy based products, however, may not be a good solution. Kelly Dorfman in her terrific book, What's Eating Your Child, has reported that 50% of kids with dairy sensitivities will also have sensitivities to soy. Add to this concern, the manganese connection and soy based products become a very poor diet substitute for adults and children with ADHD.

According to Ms. Dorfman, products such as almond milk and rice milk provide few nutrients and those children who consume these products must take supplements and multivitamins as they will not be getting the nutrients that are normally had from eating dairy products.

We learn more every day about how diet and ADHD and Inattentive ADHD symptoms are connected but finding solutions and substitutes for problematic diet habits is not easy.

Expert Rev Neurother. 2012 Apr;12(4):395-407.
Does soy-based infant formula cause ADHD? Update and public policy considerations.
Crinella FM.


University of California Irvine, Department of Pediatrics, UCI Child Development Center, 19722 MacArthur Blvd, Irvine, CA 92612, USA.


An earlier article hypothesized a relationship between soy-based infant formulas, manganese (Mn) neurotoxicity and symptoms of ADHD. In this update, more recent literature on ADHD, Mn and Mn neurotoxicity is reviewed, as well as the risks of Mn toxicity that may accompany ingestion of soy-based infant formula. The results of several critical studies are described, including rodent and primate models that demonstrate an association between ingestion of relatively high levels of Mn and: overactivity, disinhibition and inattention; stereotypes and disturbances of social relatedness; and alterations of dopamine D1 and D2 receptors and dopamine transporter in critical brain regions. Similar deficits have been shown in children with ADHD. In addition, ADHD-like symptoms of behavioral disinhibition were found to be correlated with Mn content in tooth enamel, apparently deposited at or before the fifth gestational month. The results are discussed in terms of their weight as a risk factor in ADHD, vis-à-vis compelling evidence of genetic, epigenetic and other environmental risk factors associated with the disorder, as well as the appropriateness of additional public policy decisions regarding the safety of soy formula.

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