ADHD And Food Coloring
Food coloring, used to enhance the physical attractiveness of a food product, is found in everything from ice cream and candy to the beverages your child drinks. The Mayo Clinic states that specific types of food additives may be worth avoiding until a clear link between ADHD and food coloring is established.
Food coloring is a type of direct food additive, explains the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, insofar that it goes directly into the food product. The FDA defines the term "color additive" as "any dye, pigment or substance which when added or applied to a food, drug or cosmetic, or to the human body, is capable (alone or through reactions with other substances) of imparting color." Food coloring is put in food for many purposes, says the FDA. It may be used to give food color it loses after being exposed to certain temperatures and environments, to correct the foods natural color or simply to make it more visually enticing. The FDA makes sure that all food coloring added to your food is safe for human consumption. This agency also maintains a list of all approved, certified colors that may be in your childs food.
The Mayo Clinic states that certain food additives, alone or in combination, may increase hyperactivity in children with ADHD. These are primarily color additives and include FD&C Yellow No. 6, FD&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Yellow No. 5 and FD&C Red No.40. These may also go by the names sunset yellow, quinoline yellow, tartrazine and allura red. The preservative sodium benzoate is also suspect. The clinic goes on to say that FD&C Yellow No. 5 may be more likely to enhance hyperactivity than other color additives.
According to the FDA, any company that makes and sells food to the public must include a list of all its ingredients on the product label, with the dominant ingredient first, followed by those that are added in smaller amounts in descending order. Product labels must also include any food additives, including food coloring, if the additive is certified by the FDA. As a general rule, if the food is processed, it likely contains some type of additive, says the Mayo Clinic.
Food coloring itself won cause ADHD, says the Mayo Clinic, although more and more studies suggest that the aforementioned food colorings and other preservatives may make it worse. The FDA begs to differ; the theory that food coloring worsens ADHD has been around for a long time---since the 1970s. However, the FDA indicates that research results to date have been "inconclusive, inconsistent, or difficult to interpret due to inadequacies in study design." The FDA, as well as the European Food Safety Authority, investigated a published study by the United Kingdom Standards Agency on the effect of color additives on children with ADHD and determined that the study results established no link between the dyes and hyperactive behavior.