While they don’t promise treatment, supplements for ADHD support management of the condition and its symptoms. Here are seven of them.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to present medical studies and information in an accessible manner. This post may contain opinions about particular vitamins and supplements but does not mean that it is recommended for all readers. Always consult a medical professional to see if these solutions may be right for you.
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7 Natural Supplements for ADHD Symptoms
1. Vitamin B
Vitamin B deficiencies, especially vitamin B6, can cause fatigue and irritability in persons with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Having the proper levels of vitamin B6 in the system can increase a person’s alertness and decrease symptoms which mimic anxiety.
The findings from a study on ADHD claim that vitamin B6 enzymes are abnormally high in children with ADHD and that multi-year supplementation helps maintain a normal level of the vitamin in the blood.
The body can’t produce vitamin B6. Dietary supplements and food like the following may be included in the diet to obtain the daily recommended dose for metabolic health:
- wild-caught tuna
2. Vitamin C
Drawn out from a person’s bloodstream and cycled through the nervous system, our brains need vitamin C to produce neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. Both of these neurotransmitters play essential roles in a person’s thinking capacity and attention.
Vitamin C is one of the natural supplements for ADHD which should not be taken an hour before or after taking ADHD medication. It’s best to be mindful about the scheduling of ADHD medication and taking vitamin C supplements as the latter can interfere with the body’s absorption of ADHD vitamins.
Bright and citrusy foods like oranges, berries, tomatoes, red peppers, and kale and are all potent sources of vitamin C. Supplements for ADHD can complement these vitamin C foods in your diet.
Vitamin C supplements for ADHD can also help significantly with the body’s absorption of iron. A study on vitamin C published that ascorbic acid is actively involved in the control of iron metabolism and the absorption of iron.
Some medical professionals believe that low iron levels can contribute to ADHD symptoms in children. This is due to their naturally lower ferritin levels, a protein required for storing iron in the blood.
This same study shows that children who took an iron supplement for 12 weeks showed symptom improvement. Both children and adults alike can definitely benefit from taking iron ADHD supplements to manage symptoms.
Iron is important for the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters which help in regulating the brain’s emotions, stress levels, and reward system. A deficiency can increase the risk of acquiring or worsening the disorder.
The following foods can increase your iron levels without the risk:
- red meat
- leafy greens
- dark chocolate
An important caveat in taking iron supplements is that it can be quite dangerous in high dosages, or patients may unknowingly take in too much. Before taking an iron supplement for ADHD, patients should have their iron levels measured by a medical professional.
Magnesium is an important mineral for optimal brain health. Deficiencies can cause mental confusion, irritability, and a shortened attention span.
This mineral is used to make the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine involved in the brain’s attention capacity. Adequate levels of this nutrient can also have a calming effect on the brain.
A study on magnesium supplements for ADHD shows that 72% of children with ADHD have magnesium deficiencies. As published in the research findings, after the sample group took magnesium supplements for eight weeks, their cognitive function significantly improved.
Obtain the right amounts of magnesium through a proper, well-balanced diet. These foods are good sources of this nutrient: whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, beans, and dairy products.
Before adding magnesium supplements for ADHD to your treatment plan, it’s best to consult your doctor. High doses of magnesium can be quite toxic and may cause diarrhea, nausea, and cramps.
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Zinc can regulate dopamine and help increase the effectiveness of methylphenidate by improving the brain’s response to this neurotransmitter.
Methylphenidate Definition: A synthetic drug which stimulates the central and sympathetic nervous systems. Doctors prescribe it to patients who have ADHD to help them improve focus, enhance mental activity, and decrease impulsivity.
Children with ADHD have been found to have low levels of zinc. Taking zinc and natural ADHD supplements can help reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity.
Foods which are high in this essential nutrient include the following:
- Dairy Products
- Whole Grains
- Fortified Cereals
6. Omega Fatty Acids
Omega-3 and omega-6 supplements can help improve ADHD symptoms, like lack of focus and impulsivity, especially if it is administered in the proper dosage and balance. A double-blind study on omega fatty acids and ADHD confirms the connection between omega-3 and -6 supplements and improved brain function.
Omega fatty acids, which can be natural supplements for ADHD, can help manage symptoms. These fatty acids affect how dopamine and serotonin move around in the brain’s frontal cortex.
Add dietary sources of omega fatty acids and DHA to obtain the right amount your body needs. Fatty fish are the best sources for omega fatty acids:
Consult a doctor before taking omega supplements for ADHD. High doses in this ADHD supplement can have side effects like blood thinning and an upset stomach.
Sleep-related complications arise from ADHD. Melatonin is a hormone and may also be an ADHD supplement which can help improve sleep problems and promote good rest.
Do note that melatonin can be taken as a supplement for the short-term treatment of trouble sleeping. It won’t improve or remove symptoms of ADHD, but it can help regulate sleep and improve chronic insomnia.
Findings from a literature review revealed that children with ADHD have higher rates of sleepiness in the daytime than children without ADHD. Thus, they have trouble staying focused, sitting still, and controlling their emotions and behavior.
Another study on daytime sleepiness shows that 50% of children with ADHD have signs of sleep-disordered breathing. This is an umbrella term for many chronic conditions where the patient experiences partial or complete cessation of breathing during sleep.
Watch this video from ADDitude Magazine to know more about natural supplements for ADHD symptoms:
These supplements for ADHD may aid in managing symptoms and support medication. Consult your doctor for more informed and personalized ADHD treatment.
Do you take supplements to support treatment plans? Tell us why or why not in the comments below. We’d love to know our thoughts.