The pandemic really threw a curve ball at us, and whilst it feels like those days are long over (thank gosh!). The lasting effects of the pandemic can still be felt everyday, and it’s our little people who may have been most impacted.
Rates of anxiety in children has skyrocketed since 2020 and it may show up in different ways compared to adults, this can look like;
- Inability to focus
- Avoidant or withdrawal behavior
- Consistent negative attitude
- Defiant behavior
- Controlling behavior
- Poor sleep
- Difficulty managing emotions – a sense of overwhelm
- Tummy pain, change in bowel motions or general digestive upset
- Low or increased appetite
Food and your child’s anxiety
Treating anxiety is a multi-pronged approach but one of the most impactful things you can do today is addressing the foods your child eats. There is a strong link between diet and mental health conditions in children. Kids who consume ultra-processed foods or foods high in energy and low in nutrients are more likely to develop and continually struggle with anxiety.
And this makes sense because their brains get the building blocks for neurotransmitters from what they eat. Therefore a lack of nutrients = imbalance brain chemistry = increased risk of anxiety & depression.
The great news is that changing a child’s diet (and this doesn’t have to be an overnight overhaul) can dramatically reduce anxiety and their chances of developing a mental health condition later on in life.
Key nutrients for children’s mental health
Anxiety lives within the limbic system of their brains. The nerves that make up these structures contain zinc, which help control nerve impulses and neurotransmitter production. Zinc rich foods help balance a child’s mood by increasing the production of GABA – a neurotransmitter that acts as an anti-anxiety chemical helping kids feel calm and relaxed.
Kid friendly nutrient-rich sources of zinc:
- Red meat
- Pumpkin seeds or pepitas
- Beans & Lentils
We are becoming more and more sun safe in Australia and whilst that is generally a positive thing, there has been an increase in vitamin D deficiency in our population. Having low vitamin D status is associated with an increase in anxiety. Safe sun exposure practices can help increase their vitamin D status, however increasing dietary intake of Vitamin D can help maintain healthy levels for your child.
Kid friendly nutrient-rich sources of Vitamin D:
- Fatty fish – mackerel & salmon
- Full-fat organic butter
Vitamin D is most abundantly found in fish liver oils, but I’d be hard pressed to find a child who’d willingly eat those, so for many kids supplementation especially leading up to and during winter is a must.
The B Group Vitamins are needed everywhere in our body, but when it comes to anxiety they are crucial in optimal brain and neurotransmitter function and production. A simple active B complex can drastically improve a child’s focus, mood and energy levels.
Kid friendly nutrient-rich sources of B Vitamins:
- Organic whole-grains
- Beans & Legumes
- Nuts & Seeds
- Green leafy vegetables
When stressed or anxious your child’s body will be burning through magnesium. Without replenishment, symptoms of anxiety can become more frequent and intense.
Ensuring children have an adequate daily intake of magnesium is really critical and most parents find supplementing or incorporating nutrient-rich food sources dramatically improves their child’s stress and sleep! Win Win!
Kid friendly nutrient-rich sources of Magnesium:
- Nuts & Seeds
- Organic whole-grains
- Soy products
Magnesium is also well absorbed through the skin, baths with Epsom salts are another incredible way to relax a child before bed and increase their intake of magnesium.
Remember before you race out to your local chemist to pick up supplements, retail products often use cheap and ineffective ingredients to keep costs down. Save your money, and only purchase scientifically researched practitioner-only supplements. If you’re interested in nutrient supplementation or if you feel your child may suffer with anxiety be sure to book in for your FREE 15-minute kids health assessment. This offer is only for the month of April, to book in with one of our children’s health experts click here now or call our clinic on 02 4961 4075.
Here’s what parents have to say!
“After seeing many doctors for my childs health and not getting the results we needed to finally feel relieved and like we are on the right track in getting my child feeling 100% again.” – Sam
“Have implemented a Children’s Zinc Supplement daily for my 7 year old and it seems to be increasing his appetite. Started Children’s Probiotics and trying a different Children’s Fish Oil – for overall health & immunity and the Fish Oil for Behaviour. Again seems to be working better. Has been able to avoid sickness doing the rounds at school and seems to be a little easier to reason with and willing to try to improve behaviour.” – Amanda
“Our daughter was waking multiple times a night. Up to 15-20 times some nights. Peter recommended a few supplements and she now only wakes once. Mullen health doesn’t cover up your bodies weak areas like GP’s… they find the reason and help you fix it. Will always recommend.” – Carol
“To say Peter turned my life around with our son Jackson is an understatement. We arrived at Mullen Natural Health Centre, with a 2 year old who’s sleep with disturbed every night and he was exhausted (so were his parents). Peter identified food intolerances and with a change in diet and the introduction of supplements, Jackson was immediately and significantly better. He now sleeps soundly through the night and is a much healthier and happier child. Peter has also been very supportive and caring for us as parents and has been available by email or phone whenever we have had any questions or issues.” – Jade