Vitamins are essential for the energy your child needs to stay positive and attentive and for overall health, including mental health. Lack of certain vitamins may be part of the problem if your child has a hard time staying calm. But if you have any concerns, talk to your pediatrician. Never rely on supplemental vitamins to treat emotional or behavioral problems.
Beyond Normal Behavior
It’s normal for children to occasionally be anxious and less than calm, as in, bouncing off the walls with energy and so active that they can’t follow directions or sit down long enough to eat. As a result, it can be tricky to figure out when their behavior is something to worry about.
Restlessness, extreme activity, agitation, and trouble sleeping or paying attention can also be signs of a problem that needs professional intervention. Call your pediatrician any time you have questions, but be sure to contact her if your child's worrisome activities occur frequently, go on for a long time or begin to affect day-to-day functioning, recommends KidsHealth.
Lack of B vitamins can cause fatigue, anxiety, poor concentration and irritability, reports Psychology Today. Folate, thiamine, niacin and pantothenic acid are needed to produce brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters have a calming effect and help regulate sleep.
The amount children need of each vitamin depends on their age and overall health, so ask your health care provider to be sure your child is getting the recommended intake. Lentils and beans as well as enriched or fortified foods such as cereal, bread and pasta are good sources of these B vitamins.
Role of Vitamin B-6
Vitamin B-6 works with the other B vitamins to synthesize serotonin and norepinephrine. It also is vital for producing dopamine, which influences mental state. Children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, tend to be low in all three neurotransmitters.
Some researchers believe that children with ADHD have an inborn disorder of vitamin B-6 metabolism. Treatment with supplemental vitamin B-6 may work just as well as medication, according to a study in the January 2014 issue of Medical Hypotheses.
Large supplemental doses can be toxic, so don't give your child more than 100 percent of the daily value unless it’s under the supervision of your doctor. Watch the amount obtained through fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, because some products have two to three times more than an entire day's vitamin B-6. You don’t need to worry about toxicity when the vitamin comes from whole foods, such as fish, poultry, bananas and potatoes.
Vitamin C Lowers Stress
The concentration of vitamin C in the brain is up to 100 times higher than anywhere else in the body, states The Franklin Institute. In other words, it’s vital for normal brain and nervous system functioning. Vitamin C can help reduce the effect of stress, which may help your child stay calm when he feels anxious or excited.
Most kids love oranges, strawberries or tomatoes, which are three great sources of vitamin C. Sweet peppers, broccoli and potatoes are also good choices. Vitamin C supplements are generally considered to be safe, but in large doses they may cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems.
- KidsHealth: Anxiety Disorders
- The Franklin Institute: The Human Brain: Nourish: Proteins
- Psychology Today: Vitamins: Busy B’s
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Thiamin
- Linus Pauling Institute: Niacin
- Linus Pauling Institute: Pantothenic Acid
- Medical Hypotheses: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a Pyridoxine-Dependent Condition: Urinary Diagnostic Biomarkers
- The Franklin Institute: Human Brain: Nourish: Micronutrients
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Stress
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin C