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ADD & ADHD Health Center

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ADHD Diets

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Nutritional Supplements

Some experts recommend that people with ADHD take a 100% vitamin and mineral supplement each day. Other nutrition experts, though, think that people who eat a normal, balanced diet don’t need vitamin or micronutrient supplements. They say there's no scientific evidence that vitamin or mineral supplements help all children with the disorder.

While a multivitamin may be OK when children, teens, and adults don't eat balanced diets, mega-doses of vitamins can be toxic. Avoid them.

ADHD symptoms vary from person to person. Work with your doctor closely if you're considering taking a supplement.

Elimination Diets and ADHD

To follow one of these you pick a particular food or ingredient you think might be making your symptoms worse. Then you don’t eat anything with that in it. If the symptoms get better or go away, then you keep avoiding that food.

If you cut a food from your diet, can it improve your symptoms? Research in all these areas is ongoing and the results are not clear-cut. Most scientists don't recommend this approach for managing ADHD, though. Still, here are some common areas of concern and what the experts suggest:

Food additives

In 1975 an allergist first proposed that artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives might lead to hyperactivity in some children. Since then, researchers and child behavior experts have hotly debated this issue.

Some say the idea of cutting all those things out of a diet is unfounded and unsupported by scientific evidence. But one study has shown that some food coloring and one preservative did increase hyperactivity in some children. But the effects varied according to age and additive.

Based on this and other recent studies, the American Academy of Pediatrics now agrees that eliminating preservatives and food colorings from the diet is a reasonable option for children with ADHD. Some experts recommend that people with ADHD avoid these substances:

  • Artificial colors, especially red and yellow
  • Food additives such as aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), and nitrites. Some studies have linked hyperactivity to the preservative sodium benzoate.


Some children become hyperactive after eating candy or other sugary foods. No evidence suggests that this is a cause of ADHD, though. For the best overall nutrition, sugary foods should be a small part of anyone's diet. But you can try cutting them to see if symptoms improve.

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