Artificial Colors: Link to ADHD?

For too long, artificial colors have been a hot debate. Are they linked to ADHD? The American Academy of Pediatrics says yes; the FDA says no. Who do we trust?

For the most part, I think ourselves.

As long as members of the FDA are allowed to own stock in food and drug companies, it seems like a conflict of interest to me.

I didn’t need government officials to tell me that red dye #40 impacted my son’s behavior, I can watch the transformation. Within 10 minutes he becomes a different kid: unfocused, hyper (as opposed to active), more aggressive in his play, and definitely prone to meltdowns.

I was surprised to find red #40 lurked everywhere: ketchup, yogurt, jelly, even toothpaste. Seriously?!

While our transition away from artificial colors started more than 5 years ago, little change has occurred. At least in the States. Ironically, products we love here have very different ingredients overseas.


Why? The buyers demand it, and the companies respond.

Manufactures understand that the US is a “disposable” society. We want things fast, and we want them cheap. Real ingredients aren’t cheap. Then again, neither is medical care from adverse effects.

Starbucks came under scrutiny for using cochineal as a substitute for red dye #40. As opposed to coal-based red #40, cochineal is derived from crushed bugs. More natural, yes. Kosher or vegan, no. And, it takes about 70,000 crushed insects to equal one pound of cochineal.

Maybe we should ask the question, if something is strawberry flavored, why aren’t strawberries an ingredient instead of red dye #40, cochineal, carmine, or carminic acid?

Before the kids head back to the classroom, conduct your own experiment to see how artificial colors affect them.

imageAccording to Healthy Child Healthy World, the most common dyes that affect behavior are
Yellow #6
Yellow #5
Sodium Benzoate
Red #40
Red #3
Orange B
Green #3
Blue #2
Blue #1

Eliminating artificial colors doesn’t mean giving up favorite foods, condiments, or even shampoo, sometimes it’s simply a change in brand.

Or, if you’re fortunate to have friends & family overseas, maybe they can send “care-packages” to you!

No need to eliminate sweet treats, though.  You won’t find any artificial colors in our Yummy Earth Lollipops or Glee Gum!

artificial dyes Photo credit: klubbers / Foter / CC BY


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