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Vitamins and Supplements for ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common psychiatric disorders, the main features being impairments in inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.1,2

These are at age-inappropriate levels and can be associated with long-term academic, social, and mental health problems.2

There are concerns over the medications used to treat ADHD, presence of comorbidities, limited access to psychotherapy, and disappointing long-term outcomes, hence people also seek alternative treatment options. Vitamins and supplements for ADHD may be helpful to complement the treatment and therapy.

Vitamins and Supplements for ADHD

Experts believe that nutritional elements are related to ADHD and their inclusion in the diet or as supplementation can help in various ways.

The role of micronutrients in the management of symptoms of ADHD, mood, and stress could be explained by their function as cofactors affecting metabolic pathways. Micronutrients can be beneficial by improving cellular functions, promoting digestive function, improving absorption of nutrients, and correcting inborn errors of metabolism.1

The most useful dietary compounds that can help in the treatment of ADHD include micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).2 Some studies have reported lower blood levels of minerals like magnesium, iron, and zinc in children with ADHD at the group level, and experts believe that their supplementation may reduce ADHD symptoms in those with respective deficiencies.2

Here are some of the main vitamins and supplements that may be helpful for ADHD.

1. Vitamins

Vitamins are essential nutrients that help prevent and manage several health disorders. Vitamins help the development of a healthy brain and its function, which can help in some neurodevelopmental disorders. Various studies have concluded that vitamins can help people with ADHD, owing to their health benefits.

A report on the vitamin-mineral treatment of ADHD in adults concluded that there is evidence of efficacy and safety of micronutrients in the treatment of ADHD in adults.1 It was noted in the trial that a proportion of individuals taking the micronutrients obtained scores of normal non-clinical range on ADHD ratings after 8 weeks. This suggested that it may be an effective treatment for some, especially for those who do not tolerate or choose not to take medications.

A 2018 report concluded that vitamin D deficiency was greater in children with ADHD compared to the control group. When the patients with vitamin D deficiency were given vitamin D supplementation showed improvement in cognitive function, inattention, opposition, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.3

A 2020 report concluded that vitamin A and vitamin D deficiency in children with ADHD were greater as compared to the control group. The co-deficiency of vitamin A and vitamin D is associated with ADHS symptom severity and needs further studies.4

A 2019 study showed that vitamin B 12 was reduced and homocysteine was raised in patients with ADHD, concluding that these levels may be related to oppositionality and hyperactivity seen in children with ADHD.5

2. Omega-3-Fatty Acids

As blood levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and arachidonic acid (AA) are found to be decreased in children with ADHD, the effect of supplementation on ADHD symptoms has been studied with great interest. With varying degrees of improvement in ADHD symptoms, a 2020 study reports that presently, there is little support for the efficacy of omega-3 PUFA supplementation on the core symptoms of ADHD, and focusing solely on it may not be adequate.2

Considering the developmental stage nutrition and material diet, the study reported that a prenatal diet with a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 PUFAs may influence the risk of the development of (subclinical) ADHD symptoms in the offspring during childhood. This concludes that early prevention of ADHD should begin during pregnancy and infancy.2

A 2014 report states that PUFA supplementation seems to have modest benefits in improving ADHD symptoms.6

A study suggests the effectiveness of PUFA supplements in reducing medication dosage but needs more confirmation and further research is needed.7

3. Micronutrients

Micronutrients like minerals are known to be effective for various body processes. These may also have an essential role in the management and prevention of ADHD, particularly in those with deficiencies in these micronutrients.

A 2017 report states that supplementation with minerals like zinc, iron, and magnesium may reduce ADHD symptoms in children with or at high risk of deficiencies in these minerals.7

A study was conducted in 2021 to determine the effect of vitamin D and magnesium supplementation on mental health in 66 children with ADHD. In this study, 33 children were given vitamin D (50,000IU/week) and magnesium (6mg/kg/day) co-supplementation for a duration of 8-weeks. The study concluded that co-supplementation could improve the behavioral function and mental health of children with ADHD as compared to the control group.8

It was noted that melatonin was effective in treating chronic insomnia in children with ADHD but had minimal effects in reducing core symptoms of ADHD.9

Iron and zinc supplementation may show benefits in reducing ADHD symptoms in children with or at high risk of deficiency. Data demonstrating the efficacy of iron, zinc, or magnesium in non-nutrient deficient ADHD populations is lacking.9

4. Nutrition in ADHD

While some vitamins and supplements for ADHD can help there are some other nutritional factors to be kept in mind. Some more dietary dos and don’ts can help manage the condition in addition to the treatment and supplements for ADHD.

A diet high in refined sugar and saturated fat can increase the risk of hyperactivity, while a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can protect against it.10

Diets that help reduce symptoms of ADHD include sugar-restricted, preservative, or additives-free while including omega-3-fatty acids.11


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 19, 2022

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