Neurotransmitters are chemicals that control the development of the brain, govern our behaviors and control mood. Each neurotransmitter has a specific function and regulates a different aspect of learning, social interaction and development.
Dopamine is formed from the amino acid tyrosine with vitamin C, folate and iron needed as cofactors for the conversion. Dopamine is responsible for attention and governs behavior. Research has shown that children with autism and ADHD have lower levels of dopamine metabolites in their urine. This can result in attention deficits and focusing issues in these children.
Seretonin has multiple functions in the body and is involved in sleep, mood and behavior. It also plays a role in learning and memory, sensory perception and appetite. It is made from tryptophan with the help of Vitamin C, folate and B6. A number of autistic children have difficulty converting B6 to its active form (P5P) resulting in a decrease in the production of seretonin. Decreased levels can worsen behavior and mood, increase anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
GABA and Glutamate
Gaba is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and prevents over excitability of the brain. It is especially important in learning and memory and in promoting sleep. Gaba deficiencies can result in problems with attention, sleep, anxiety and learning in general. Glutamate is a major excitatory neurotransmitter and can damage the brain in high doses. Abnormalities in the numbers of receptors for this neurotransmitter have been found in ASD kids. Glutamate activity seems to peak during the second year of life - the exact time that many regressions take place in ASD kids. It is interesting to note that MSG contains glutamate and partially explains the reactions (ie; hyperactivity) to foods containing this additive.
Brain chemistry is complex but an essential component of your child's comprehensive biomedical treatment. With specialized testing, these imbalances can be detected and modified through dietary changes and supplementation.
Brain Chemistry is Complex
Let me simplify it for you...
Zinc deficiency is far too common today, especially in our children. This may be due to a poor diet, a genetic disorder called pyroluria (25% of kids with ADHD have this) or just plain malabsorption. Low zinc levels have been linked to behavioral disorders such as ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder and aggression in children/teens. Before putting your child on Ritalin or a stimulant drug with countless side effects, just do a simple blood test to determine your child's zinc levels. Along with this you should test copper levels. Elevated copper is related to lower levels of dopamine and higher levels of nor-epinephrine (the stress hormone). These fluctuations in neurotransmitters lead to cognitive/behavioral issues and learning disorders.