Oppositional defiance disorder, or ODD, is a mental condition that affects your child and causes them to display patterns of defiance, hostility, anger, and disobedience toward figures of authority. According to Pub Med Health, ODD may result from biological, psychological, and social factors. And while your child may already be on medication and meeting with a psychotherapist, a change in diet may also improve symptoms associated with ODD.
Below are two key supplements that you can incorporate into your child’s diet to help them on a nutritional level as they continue with their other treatment plans. Both are commonly under consumed, but are important to your child’s brain heath. Be sure to talk to your child’s doctor before making drastic changes in his or her diet.
Zinc is a mineral found in meat, shellfish, poultry, mushrooms, and most dairy products. Deficiency in zinc can increase the instances and severity of neurological and behavioral disorders associated with ODD and ADHD.
Zinc helps to produce brain chemicals that neutralize stimulants that cause hyperactivity and impulsivity. Zinc also reduces copper in your child’s brain, which in turn decreases the incidence of behavioral and cognitive abnormalities caused by excess copper.
Adequate zinc can be obtained through a well-balanced diet.
Recently, zinc deficiency has been linked to impaired memory, learning disabilities, and poor attention spans. Each year, more children are found to be more deficient in zinc than in any other nutrient.
Sleep problems are common in children with developmental disorders. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by your child’s body, but may supplemented orally for a variety of brain-related disorders, including ODD. Melatonin helps your child’s brain to control its sleep-wake cycle and is available over the counter for the treatment of ODD and ADHD. Melatonin use helps to regulate and sustain normal sleeping patterns for your child, which can balance hormones, like serotonin, which regulates mood, aggression, anxiety, and depression.
“Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally released in your brain. It essentially helps to prepare the entire body for sleep,” said Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., associate professor of neurology, pulmonary and critical medicine and director of the Neuro-Sleep Division at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “It’s not a sleep inducer — you don’t fall asleep right away. It’s a sleep preparer. The way it’s naturally released in your body, it starts to peak about four to six hours before your intended sleep time. It’s really a hormone that sets the stage for getting ready to go to sleep.”
Since melatonin is a supplement, it is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Gamaldo recommends that parents use well-known brand name supplements purchased at a reputable store. She also advises that you consult your child’s pediatrician before giving your child melatonin.
“There is more data suggesting that when children have problems with sleep, it can affect their ability to learn and absorb information,” said Gamaldo. “Sleep is so important to kids’ health and development that parents shouldn’t hesitate to talk to their pediatrician about their concerns.”
Parenting a child with ODD requires a lot of time, patience, and care. Dietary changes can be hard work for both you and your child as you adapt and adjust to the new foods and supplements necessary to help create a healthier child. When your child’s behavior begins to improve, that alone provides the motivation needed to stay the course and continue finding the best holistic and natural solutions that can make your child healthy, happy, and well adjusted despite their diagnosis.