Iron Levels

Dr. Sydney Walker III (The Hyperactivity Hoax) found that 45% of teenagers who were struggling with focusing or depression (wanting to be alone) were subclinically anemic. This means that their hemoglobin and hematocrit tests were in the “normal” range, but their ferritin levels (the iron-binding capacity of the blood) were low. It is best to ask to have the blood test results sent to you. The interpretation of the test may be that the results are normal, but “normal”  covers a very wide range, and your son or daughter’s results may have just barely made it to the bottom of that range. This would be something to further explore.

Zinc Deficiency

Dr. Carl Pfeiffer (Mental and Elemental Nutritents) found that teenagers who struggle with anxiety, impulsiveness, and focusing issues were low in the mineral zinc. (This deficiency can manifest as white spots on the fingernails.) When the nervous system is biologically stressed, it throws out excessive amounts of zinc and B-6, which are the calming mineral and vitamin. This can be measured in a urine test. In my 13 years experience in my clinic in Denver, I have found this to be a large factor, particularly in teenage boys. I have also seen them respond very favorably to supplementation. Read about the impact of this zinc/copper imbalance at

Fungal and Yeast Overgrowth

Many of these teenagers have become “carbovores,” craving carbs and sugars all day. They are inadvertently feeding the yeast/fungus in their gut, causing them to feel spacey, unhappy, and forgetful. Dr. Trowbridge in The Yeast Syndrome and Dr. Orion Truss in The Missing Diagnosis both talk extensively about using natural antifungals to help teenagers create a better balance to banish these disturbing behaviors.

In my CD set The Biology of Behavior, I discuss a three-month nutritional supplement program designed to address this imbalance in teenagers ( This yeast/fungus overgrowth creates many unwanted behaviors that seem confusing and can look like character issues. Many great reports have come from parents who helped their teenagers overcome this imbalance naturally.

Omega 3s

Dr. Andrew Stoll (The Omega 3 Connection), in his Harvard study, found that many adults and teenagers who struggle with focusing or depression are low in the Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly the DHA found in fish oil. Dr. Jacqueline Stordy has created a protocol, or formula, that works best. It is described in her book The LCD Solution. She has found that ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia run in families that are low in these essential fatty acids. They are easy to supplement, and it takes about three months to see the full effect, even though most teenagers say they notice a difference in a few weeks of taking the protocol amounts (see the article “Essential Fatty Acids and the Brain” on my website——for Dr. Stordy’s protocol). Oils are powerful tools in our arsenal!

Learning What It’s Like to Focus

It is important to discover the cause of your teenager’s reluctance or difficulty in finishing work while he is still at home. There, you are in a position to help him find answers and experience what feeling good, and focused, is like.

If we don’t recognize and address these issues at home, a common story is that this bright student goes to his first year of college, maybe even getting a scholarship, but has great difficulty completing the required work his first year. He finds himself on academic probation. He may even lose his scholarship. That is when we may first realize that we were accommodating the teenager so much in homeschooling that we did not see the extent of the struggle he was having. It is much more difficult to get him to take supplements or change his diet while in the dorm setting. This is best done at home.

God is so good, and He gives us insight when we ask for it. If your family is struggling with some of these issues, I believe that you will find exactly what you can do at home to make learning and focusing easier for your teenager. 

Dianne Craftis a former homeschool mother who has a master’s degree in special education and is a Certified Natural Health Professional. For the past 13 years, she has been the president of Child Diagnostics, Inc., in Denver, CO. Her website,, has many articles on children and learning. Dianne is also a Learning Specialist for the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. The website has many helps for parents of struggling learners. Members of HSLDA can personally talk to Dianne and other Learning Specialists about their child at any time.

This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr 2011 issue of HomeSchoolEnrichment Magazine. To learn more, and to request a FREE sample copy, visit