[p2p-research] ADHD or lack of Vitamin D? Albany Free School connection?

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sun Oct 11 01:34:13 CEST 2009

Found a blog post by someone on the issue of ADHD and Vitamin D:
   "ADHD or Lack of Vitamin D?"

They cite this article:
   "Vitamin D in brain function: Vitamin D supplementation for high risk 
groups may be warranted"
"In a definitive critical review, scientists at Children�s Hospital & 
Research Center Oakland ask whether there is convincing biological or 
behavioral evidence linking vitamin D deficiency to brain dysfunction. Joyce 
C. McCann, Ph.D., assistant staff scientist and Bruce N. Ames, Ph.D., senior 
scientist at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) conclude 
that there is ample biological evidence to suggest an important role for 
vitamin D in brain development and function, and that supplementation for 
groups chronically low in vitamin D is warranted. Their conclusions will be 
published on April 22, 2008 in the Federation of American Societies for 
Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal. ...
   McCann & Ames point out that evidence for vitamin D�s involvement in 
brain function includes the wide distribution of vitamin D receptors 
throughout the brain. They also discuss vitamin D's ability to affect 
proteins in the brain known to be directly involved in learning and memory, 
motor control, and possibly even maternal and social behavior. The review 
also discusses studies in both humans and animals that present suggestive 
though not definitive evidence of cognitive or behavioral consequences of 
vitamin D inadequacy. The authors discuss possible reasons for the apparent 
discrepancy between the biological and behavioral evidence, and suggest new, 
possibly clarifying avenues of research.
   Many vitamin D experts advise that the currently recommended level of 
vitamin D intake is much too low and should be raised to protect against 
bone fractures and possibly cancer in addition to rickets (2). Indeed, even 
using present guidelines, too many Americans have low vitamin D blood 
levels. McCann & Ames propose that, despite uncertainty regarding all of the 
deleterious effects of vitamin D inadequacy, the evidence overall indicates 
that supplementation, which is both inexpensive and prudent, is warranted 
for groups whose vitamin D status is exceptionally low, particularly nursing 
infants, the elderly, and African Americans (e.g., see (3)). ..."

And that gets me wondering. The Albany Free School is able to help what are 
often called AHDH kids to learn in a community, using a "play-based 
curriculum" that involves supporting kids while they choose what they want 
to do in the company of other child-aged learners as well as adults modeling 
learning and healthy living in community.
   "Teaching the Restless: One School's Remarkable No-Ritalin Approach to 
Helping Children Learn and Succeed" by Chris Mercogliano

I have no doubt such a play-based curriculum is a good thing and better than 
compulsory school for most kids. I love learner-directed education, where 
public schools would become more like public libraries.

But, what if some of the magic with the kids labeled ADHD at the Albany Free 
School is that, instead of getting Ritalin, that kids who have been labeled 
are allowed to play outdoors in the sunlight a lot? Especially African 
American kids in that more northern area of the USA who will struggle more 
with getting enough Vitamin D at that lattitude? The Free School has an 
outdoor courtyard at the school kids can use when they want, and they allow 
kids to go to the nearby parks, plus they have some rural lands they go on 
field trips too.

Could increasing Ritalin use be partially an ineffective response to Vitamin 
D deficiency in kids, especially kids with darker skins?

I'm not suggesting Vitamin D is all of the issue (especially given what most 
schools are). But, it might be part of it.

I don't see any search results of "Vitamin D" on John Taylor Gatto's site, 
and one of the things he did was help kids get out of school more in 
apprenticeships and internships, so perhaps another unexpected benefit:
   "Underground History of American Education"

To be clear, even if Vitamin D supplements helped kids be part of a learning 
community as much as being at the Free School play-based curriculum did, I 
still would prefer the Free School model over most other schools, for those 
who don't homeschool. :-) I should update my essay to include the Vitamin D 
benefits of just giving public school money to parents to decide how to 
spend it: :-)
"Towards a Post-Scarcity New York State of Mind (through homeschooling)" 

Anyway, this Vitamin D issue may also be especially important to people who 
spend too much time at their computers reading and writing emails. People 
like me. :-)
   "Vitamin D Deficiency Syndrome"

Maybe ADHD should be renamed to stand for:
    "A Deficiency of Helpful vitamin-D"? :-)

Anyway, I BCCd the Albany Free School's "questions" email as well as Chris 
Mercogliano just so they know about this possible connection.

--Paul Fernhout

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