Skip to content

ADD & ADHD Health Center

Select An Article

ADHD Diets

Font Size

Nutritional Supplements and ADHD

Some experts recommend that people with ADHD take a 100% vitamin and mineral supplement each day. Other nutrition experts, however, believe that vitamin or micronutrient supplements are not necessary in people who eat a normal, balanced diet, and point out that there is no scientific evidence that vitamin or mineral supplements help all children with ADHD. While a multivitamin may be OK when children, teens, and adults don't eat balanced diets, mega-doses of vitamins can be toxic and should be avoided.

ADHD symptoms vary from person to person. Work with your doctor closely before considering any additional supplements.

Elimination Diets and ADHD

In elimination diets, you identify a particular food or ingredient you think might be contributing to or worsening ADHD symptoms. Then you stop eating anything containing that substance. If the symptoms lessen or subside, then you continue avoiding the substance.

Can eliminating foods from your diet improve ADHD symptoms? Research in all these areas is ongoing and results are not clear-cut, although most scientists do not advocate this as a mainstream approach to managing ADHD. Nonetheless, here are some common areas of concern and what the experts recommend:

Food allergiesor additives

Starting in 1975, the late Benjamin Feingold, MD, an allergist, proposed that artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives might lead to hyperactivity in some children. Since his initial theory, researchers and child behavior experts have hotly debated this issue, with some viewing his original radical dietary restrictions as unfounded and unsupported by scientific evidence . A recent study showed that some food coloring and one preservative did increase hyperactivity in some children. However, 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 intake of the preservative sodium benzoate.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Post it notes
Symptoms and treatments.
Close up of eye
What's zapping your focus?
man driving car
How to manage your impulses.
Woman shopping for vitamins at drugstore
Should you take them?
concentration killers
Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Reduce Side Effects ADHD Medications

boy eating egg
smiling man
ADHD in Marriage and Romantic Relationships
Adult man lying awake in bed

WebMD Special Sections