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Vitamin D, another common vitamin


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deficiency, is not only a key player in our immune health, but also our mental-emo- tional health. Vitamin D receptors located in regions of the brain and the limbic system help regulate mood and behavior. Vitamin D is also involved in the produc- tion of dopamine and serotonin. Vitamin D can not only be acquired from the sun, but also from fish like salmon and mackerel.


Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are required for the production of neurotransmitters. Some of these amino acids include taurine and L-theanine. Consuming adequate amounts of protein daily will help avoid these deficiencies.


Methyl folate and methylcobalamin,


two essential B vitamins, have been as- sociated with both anxiety and depression as well as other illnesses. These vitamins play a role in the methylation pathway, which supports our DNA, protein meth- ylation, neurotransmitter production and more. Issues with this pathway, known as MTHFR, are common and is known to be linked to mood disorders and chronic health conditions.


Zinc is another vitamin that is used within the methylation pathway, thus sup- porting the production of neurotransmit- ters and mental health.


Herbs


There are many wonderful herbs that can be used safely and effectively for children and adolescents. They can easily be taken in glycerine form or consumed in the form of teas, which I personally love.


Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, has been used in India for over 5000 years. It is known as an adaptogen where it helps modulate cortisol, epi- nephrine and norepinephrine, and mimics GABA, thus helping the body to respond to emotional stress.


In a double-blind, randomized, con- trolled trial with Oxazepam, it was shown the Passionflower extract is equally effec- tive for generalized anxiety disorder. It helps by working on GABA levels, thereby decreasing anxiety and improving sleep.


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Lemon balm is another nice calming herb that that can be used to help allevi- ate feelings associated with stress and anxiety. The added benefit of this herb is that it is a good source of antioxidants.


Being Present


Supplements and herbs aside, let’s not forget the power of speaking to our children. This is the time for them to learn how to cope with stress and anxiety and carry what they learn through adulthood. It is important for them to recognize what triggers their anxiety and stress. There are therapies that help provide skills needed to manage emotions in a healthy manner, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). According to Kristin Dineen, LCSW at Insight Counseling of Ridgefield, who specializes in DBT, this therapy is ex- tremely beneficial in teaching techniques that focus on mindfulness, acceptance, distractions, self-soothing, and recogniz- ing thinking mistakes, ultimately being very effective for reducing anxiety. Other beneficial mind-body techniques include yoga, meditation, journaling and, one of my other favorites, the Tapping Method.


When helping children manage anxiety and stress, we want to be sure to address their emotions and needs. Teaching children how to confront their emotions will set them up for a healthy, balanced life.


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