Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

ADD & ADHD Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Vitamins and Supplements for ADHD

Have you ever wondered whether vitamins and supplements can help treat the symptoms of ADHD?

Over the past few decades, alternative and complementary medicine has grown in popularity. As a result, there is now a wide range of nontraditional approaches to personal health and healing. These various remedies are sometimes used in the place of standard medical approaches. Oftentimes, though, they are used in addition to standard medical therapy. Some alternative remedies are safe, relatively affordable, and easily accessible. And some may actually create an opportunity for you to participate actively in key decisions about your health.

On the other hand, there are other natural or alternative remedies that are unsafe. That's why it's important to know what works -- and what doesn't -- when it comes to nonstandard treatments for conditions like ADHD. The fact that claims are made that a vitamin or supplement is natural is not a guarantee that it's safe. It's important to always discuss any therapy with your doctor before taking it.

Read on to discover whether there are vitamins and natural supplements that are safe and effective for treating symptoms of ADHD.

Zinc for ADHD Symptoms

Some studies suggest that children with ADHD may have lower levels of zinc in their body. And some scientists have reported improved symptoms in children with ADHD who took zinc supplements along with traditional ADHD treatment.

Several studies have shown a reduction in hyperactivity and impulsivity with zinc supplementation. The same studies, though, report no change in inattentiveness, which is another key symptom of ADHD. A 2005 study in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, though, did show a correlation between zinc levels and teacher- and parent-rated inattention in children.

Foods high in zinc include oysters and other seafood, red meat, poultry, dairy products, beans, nuts, whole grains, and fortified cereals.

Fish Oil for ADHD Symptoms

There is some evidence that fish oil can help improve ADHD symptoms. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. There are some findings that suggest that, in children with ADHD who are 8 to 12 years old, fish oil supplementation may improve mental skills. For instance, it may help improve a child's ability to organize activities.

In one study, a specific supplement of fish oil and evening primrose oil was used. Results showed that it improved hyperactivity, inattentiveness, an inability to think clearly, and overall behavior in children with ADHD who were 7 to 12 years old.

Fish high in omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, trout, and sardines.

St. John's Wort: No Help for ADHD

St. John's wort is a common herbal supplement. It's used for treating depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. This herbal treatment affects brain chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Recent scientific studies do not support the use of St. John's wort to treat ADHD. In fact, recent findings conclude that St. John's wort has no effect on the symptoms of ADHD.

One study involved a group of children and adolescents with ADHD ranging in age from 6 to17. Each child and adolescent was given either a placebo or St. John's wort supplement three times a day for 8 weeks. They were then evaluated for changes in their hyperactivity and inattentiveness. The results showed no difference between the two groups.

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Justin Timberlake
Slideshow
brain food
SLIDESHOW
 
Man distracted while working
Assessment
young man holding book
Article
 

concentration killers
SLIDESHOW
Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
Article
 
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Article
Reduce Side Effects ADHD Medications
Article
 

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

WebMD Special Sections