Adhd child supplements

10 Supplements and Vitamins for ADHD Symptom Control

What ADHD Supplements Improve Symptoms?

Research shows that medication does a good job of managing ADHD symptoms in many children and adults. Still, the thought of starting your eight-year-old son or daughter on a drug, no matter how effective it might be, causes lots of hand-wringing and soul-searching in parents before they agree to do it. There are potential side effects to be considered, along with the fact that ADHD medications don’t work the same way for every child in managing symptoms. So some parents look for other natural remedies for ADHD, such as nutrition, exercise, and supplements, to help their child deal with symptoms.

It is important to understand what a supplement is. A nutritional supplement provides basic nutrients for optimal health and function that you may not be getting from your food. Supplements include vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats. I don’t include herbal or botanical ingredients, such as ginkgo or St. John’s wort, in the supplement category. Botanicals are plant-based products that are not necessarily nutrients, but which may have positive effects on health and function.

Now let’s look at the individual ADHD supplements I recommend. Every natural remedy for ADHD mentioned here has some research to support its effectiveness in improving some symptoms.

If possible, I’d consult a physician to help you incorporate supplements into your treatment plan. Managing supplements and other integrative treatments requires expertise. It is difficult for a family to do this on their own.

ADHD Supplement: Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Usually given in the form of fish oil, omega-3s are probably the best-researched supplement for ADHD. Numerous studies, including two meta-analyses, have found benefit in the area of hyperactivity, attention, or impulsivity.

[Get This Free Resource: Everyday Foods Filled with Omega-3s]

Finding the best omega 3 supplement is a different story. Despite all the studies on omega-3s, questions remain about the optimal dose and how to give it. The important omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA, which are listed on most product labels. I recommend a total of 1,000 mg. of EPA plus DHA (add the two together) for smaller children, 2,000 mg. for adolescents, and 1,500 mg. for those in between. There should be 1.5 to 2 times as much EPA as DHA. Most omega-3 gummies don’t provide these higher levels, so your best option is to give your child capsules or a liquid. For children who are vegetarian, algae oil is available, but it requires large doses to get enough EPA and DHA.

A related supplement is phosphatidylserine. This is a type of molecule derived from fatty acids that plays an important role in cell signaling. A couple of small studies indicate it might be helpful for ADHD. My clinical experience is that the benefits have not been impressive. It can be taken on its own or in conjunction with a fish oil supplement.

ADHD Supplement: Zinc

I recommend zinc for children with ADHD. The mineral is not as well researched as omega-3s and iron, but there is some positive research. One study showed that taking zinc with a psychostimulant caused a nearly 40 percent reduction in the amount of the stimulant required to function at optimal levels. Other studies have shown benefits for ADHD symptoms in general. Zinc levels can be measured in the blood, but it is safe to give 20-25 mg. of zinc daily to your child without first doing a blood test.

ADHD Supplement: Vitamin D

Many American children have abnormally low levels of vitamin D. Newer research shows that children with ADHD have lower vitamin D levels than children without the condition. One study showed that expectant mothers with low vitamin D levels had a higher likelihood of their children having ADHD. There are no studies showing that giving vitamin D to children with ADHD improves their symptoms. Nevertheless, I would check vitamin D levels and supplement if the levels are low or even borderline low.

[Free Resource Here: Guide to Natural ADHD Treatment Options]

ADHD Supplement: Iron

Low levels of the mineral iron can be a significant problem in children with ADHD. Studies have shown that iron is crucial for normal brain function, and that treating with supplemental iron can improve ADHD symptoms.

Before giving an iron supplement to your child, it is important to measure the iron levels in your child’s blood. When doctors measure these in children, they test for hemoglobin and hematocrit — the level of iron in red blood cells. These readings are usually normal in children with ADHD. I recommend that doctors also check the ferritin level, which measures circulating iron. This is often low, or borderline low, in kids with ADHD. One study showed that the average ferritin level in ADHD children was 22 compared with 44 in non-ADHD children.

I recommend supplementing with iron if a child has a ferritin level under 30. It is important to use a chelated iron product, which reduces the problem of constipation or stomachaches. I usually begin with 30-40 mg. of elemental iron a day, and measure ferritin levels again in three to six months.

Multivitamin/Multimineral for ADHD

It is important that children with ADHD have adequate amounts of a wide range of vitamins and minerals, but until recently, there has been little research suggesting that taking a multivitamin/multimineral was helpful for ADHD. Research indicates that a specific multivitamin/multimineral combination is effective for kids who have ADHD and emotional dysregulation, often displayed by oppositional children.

Daily Essential Nutrients is made by Hardy Nutritionals. In one study, the micronutrients in this formulation reduced impairment and improved inattention, emotional regulation, and aggression. DEN did not improve hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. The downside is that it is expensive, and a child has to take six pills a day. It’s possible that other multivitamins have similar effects, but they have not been well-studied.

ADHD Supplement: Magnesium

This mineral won’t directly improve attention, but it can calm hyperactivity and agitation, which compromise attention. I find magnesium helpful for children who have a “rebound effect” after their stimulant medication wears off. A child can safely take 100-300 mg. of elemental magnesium twice daily in the form of magnesium glycinate, citrate, or chelate. The citrate form tends to lead to loose stools.

ADHD Supplement: Inositol

Inositol is found in very small amounts in many foods. In concentrated doses, it helps to counter agitation and anxiety. I recommend 12-18 grams a day divided into two or three doses for adults. The dose for kids would be calculated based on their mass.

ADHD Supplement: Ginkgo Biloba

This herb has been used to improve cognitive function for thousands of years. A couple of small studies have shown that it may be helpful in children with ADHD. A recent double-blind randomized study looked at adding ginkgo to a stimulant that children were already taking. Some children took ginkgo plus a stimulant, while others took a placebo and a stimulant. Those who took the ginkgo had a 35 percent better response rate in terms of improving attention. It had no effect on hyperactivity or impulsivity. I use 60 mg., twice a day, for children.

Bacopa and gotu kola, which are part of Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medicine of India), have both been used to treat ADHD, but western medicine has done little research on them.

One herb, St. John’s wort, is often recommended for children with ADHD, but research shows that it helps with mood disorders, not ADHD. A study on using St. John’s wort to treat ADHD reached the same conclusion: It did not help. This study was discussed in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. View the study abstract.

The ABCs of ADHD Supplements

Among the many questions parents ask me when thinking about natural supplements for ADHD are: How can supplements help? Are they a substitute for ADHD medication, or can they be used together? How long do they take to work? Can they have side effects?

  1. How do supplements improve attention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity? It is helpful to understand how supplements are researched. The most common method is to give either the supplement being studied or a placebo to a person, and see if ADHD symptoms improve. Researchers measure this by looking at ADHD surveys or checklists, filled out by teachers and parents. In most cases, the research shows improvements in attention and focus, hyperactivity, or impulsivity, or all of them. It is hard to predict the effect any single supplement will have on a child.
  2. Will supplements improve symptoms as much as ADHD medication? For the most part, no. ADHD-friendly supplements are helpful, but they do not have the immediate and powerful effect on ADHD symptoms that medication does. It is hard to quantify the effectiveness of these supplements compared to medication. It is worth noting that supplements in general have far fewer side effects than medication, and less potential for severe side effects. I use supplements as part of an integrative treatment plan that includes interventions related to school, parenting, sleep, and exercise.
  3. How long will it take to see results after starting a supplement? This varies, depending on the supplement and the child. Some families have told me that they saw improvement within days of starting fish oil; other families didn’t see any improvement after a month. I recommend waiting a few months before deciding whether or not supplements are helpful.
  4. Do supplements have side effects? Some supplements have side effects, but they are milder and less common than the side effects of ADHD stimulants. Iron, for instance, may cause constipation or abdominal pain. It is important to notice any symptoms that occur after starting one or more supplements and consult with your physician.

[Get Free Guide to the Best Vitamins and Supplements for Managing ADHD Symptoms]

Sandy Newmark, M.D., is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Medical Review Panel.

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Fish Oil Benefits for ADHD: Best Omega 3 Supplements

Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help with ADHD?

You know that fish contain nutrients that help prevent heart disease and other serious ailments. Now evidence is mounting that these same omega-3 fatty acids also optimize brain function. Among other things, omega-3s boost the body’s synthesis of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that ADHD medications act to increase.

So, could a daily fish oil capsule help curb the symptoms of ADHD?

Quite possibly, suggest several research studies on fish oil for ADHD — including a study published in Pediatrics. “A lack of certain polyunsaturated fatty acids may contribute to dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder,” reports one of the study’s authors, Paul Montgomery, D. Phil., a researcher in the psychiatry department at the University of Oxford in England.

For Montgomery’s study, schoolchildren were given fish oil supplements rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) for a period of three months. During this time, the children showed significant improvements in behavior, reading, and spelling.

[Get This Free Download: Fish Oil Supplements for Children with ADHD]

Is Fish Oil Safe for Kids and Adults with ADHD?

Fish oil is generally safe when taken properly, but you should always speak with your doctor before trying fish oil.  Make sure the fish oil supplement you take is free of mercury and other contaminants. Children and adults with shellfish allergies should not take fish oil supplements; instead, they should look for vegetarian omega-3 supplements, usually made of algae or other plant-based materials. Side effects of fish oil supplements are generally mild, and may include nausea, heartburn, or “fish burps.”

What Are the Best Omega-3 Supplements for ADD?

Over-The-Counter Formulations for Children with ADHD

Fish burps are a real, dreaded thing. These, and the fishy taste of many omega 3 supplements, deter many children from trying this line of treatment. So ADDitude asked three kids with ADD — Natalie (age 10), Harry (10), and Katie (7) — to try several popular omega-3 products.

Although none of the products caused the deal-breaker fish burps, some of them did need to be hidden in other foods to get past our tasters’ picky palates. Here are the results, along with some frank comments from our panel.

Carlson for Kids (lemon flavor) (#CommissionsEarned)
Benefits: Made from cold-water fish caught in Norwegian waters; bottled in Norway to ensure maximum freshness
Serving: 800 mg of omega 3s per 1/2-teaspoon serving
Comments: Our testers preferred it mixed with a favorite food. Harry has his mixed in chocolate milk. Try it in a spoonful of lemon yogurt.

Coromega Kids Omega3 Squeeze (orange flavor) (#CommissionsEarned)
Benefits: Portable, single-dose packets; clinically proven to deliver 300 percent better absorption than softgels
Serving: 284 mg of omega 3s per 2. 5-g packet
Comments: Our tasters weren’t thrilled with taking it straight. Mixing it in a smoothie or yogurt helped a lot.

Barlean’s Kid’s Omega Swirl (lemonade flavor) (#CommissionsEarned)
Benefits: Nine times more absorbable than regular fish oil; has the taste and texture of a smoothie
Serving: 720 mg of omega-3s per 2-teaspoon serving
Comments: All three kids liked it straight. Says Harry: “Double thumbs up.” Says Natalie: “Mmm, ahh, yummy. I could drink it all down.”

SaviSeed (cocoa-kissed flavor)
Benefits: Super-seeds from the rainforests of Peru; richest source of omega 3s, 13 times as much per serving as wild salmon
Serving: 7 g of omega 3s per 1-ounce serving
Comments: All three testers liked the taste at first, but were less pleased when the chocolate coating gave way to the earthy taste of the seed inside. Try having kids wash it down with chocolate milk.

Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Effervescent (creamy orange flavor) (#CommissionsEarned)
Benefits: Fun to drink as the powder creates fizzy bubbles when dissolved in water; convenient single-serving packets; added vitamin D3
Serving: 670 mg of omega 3s per 9.7-g packet
Comments: One of the three testers went for this one. Natalie: “Mmm. That’s good!” Instead of water, try mixing it in lemonade or orange juice.

[Read This Next: The ADHD Food Fix]

Research-Based Formulations Specifically for ADHD

Equazen Pro, a new Omega-3 supplement, manages omega-3 fatty acid deficiency to nutritionally support focus and attention in children with ADHD or ADHD-type symptoms. It was formulated to address a LC-PUFA deficiency caused by genetic abnormalities that is linked to ADD-type symptoms.

In addition, several vegetarian options do exist, including products like this: Purity Omega.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends treating ADHD in children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 with FDA-approved medications, plus parent training in behavior modification and behavioral classroom interventions. Research studies like this one conducted by scientists at McGill University have found that “stimulant medications are most effective, and combined medication and psychosocial treatment is the most beneficial treatment option for most adult patients with ADHD.” All ADHD treatment decisions should be made in consultation and coordination with a licensed medical provider.

ADDitude Resources

  • Read This Next: 12 Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • 6 Essential (and Often-Overlooked) Supplements for ADHD
  • “ADHD and Fish Oil Supplements: What’s a Safe Dosage?”

Update 12/2020: An earlier version of this article misidentified DHA as an omega-6 fatty acid. DHA is an omega-3.

As an Amazon Associate, ADDitude earns a commission from qualifying purchases made by ADDitude readers on the affiliate links we share. However, all products linked in the ADDitude Store have been independently selected by our editors and/or recommended by our readers. Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.


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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder




Alpatsky Dmitry Alexandrovich Neurologist, epileptologist, EEG doctor


Mothers often come to a pediatric neurologist with complaints of restlessness, increased motor activity and inattention in children. Children are rarely assiduous, but the degree is different for everyone. Most often, these problems are not paid attention to before school. Some parents, on the contrary, are happy that the baby is so smart. But with the beginning of studies, it becomes obvious that the child is different from everyone. He cannot sit through the whole lesson, moves a lot, distracts others and, most importantly, does not remember well. So the child gets an appointment with a neurologist, psychologist or other specialists. And suddenly it turns out that such behavior and inattention are not manifestations of the stubborn nature or spoiled child, but refers to the dysfunction of the nervous system. Let's understand what Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is.

ADHD was first described by psychiatrist Heinrich Hoffman in 1845 in his son. It was not until 1902 that Sir George F. Still published a series of lectures in England that described a group of impulsive children with significant behavioral disturbances associated with cerebral dysfunction rather than poor parenting. Since then, doctors in all countries have been studying the nature of this syndrome, its course and methods of treatment.

What are the causes of ADHD? Scientists have found that this condition is based on neurobiological factors. These are genetic mechanisms and early organic damage to the central nervous system associated with the pathological course of pregnancy and childbirth. The most important role in the development of the baby is also played by socio-psychological factors.

What symptoms can indicate the presence of this condition in a child? The baby is constantly in motion (spinning, spinning). Cannot sit still when necessary. The behavior of such a child can be characterized by excessive and aimless motor activity. The child is practically unable to play quiet and calm games. He talks a lot and non-stop. Answers questions promptly without hesitation. The baby's hyperactivity is combined with impulsivity. It is difficult for a child to wait, he is extremely impatient. Often interferes with others, interrupts them. Not able to pay attention to details, makes many mistakes. It is difficult for him to maintain attention in the process of completing school assignments. Not attentive and distracted, unable to repeat the phrase addressed to him. Doesn't finish what he started. Unable to independently plan, organize the execution of tasks. Avoids tasks that require prolonged mental effort and is easily distracted. The kid often loses or forgets his things.

In most cases, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is combined with psychological developmental disorders, delayed speech development, disorders in the formation of school skills (difficulties in learning to write, read and count).

To confirm the diagnosis of ADHD, a consultation with a neurologist and a psychologist is necessary. To assess the level of development of the central nervous system and exclude gross pathology, an examination is carried out - electroencephalography.

The most effective for ADHD is complex assistance, which combines the efforts of doctors, psychologists, teachers working with the child, and his relatives and friends.

Treatment of ADHD includes three directions: psychological correction, sufficient and most physiological physical activity, drug therapy.

As a psychological assistance, both individual and family psychotherapy are carried out. Particular attention is paid to the emotional state of such children, behavior in the family, friendships, learning at school, and leisure activities.

Children with increased motor activity need to be engaged in sports sections. The most harmonious sports are: swimming, football, athletics, gymnastics.

As a drug therapy, courses of nootropic drugs, vitamins and microelements, drugs stabilizing the vegetative sphere, and in some cases behavior correctors are prescribed. Often, children with ADHD are prescribed zinc supplements to eliminate the deficiency of this mineral in the body. After each course of such therapy, there is a positive trend in the emotional sphere, behavior, concentration of attention. The drugs are taken in courses for a long period.

The efforts of all specialists observing children with ADHD should be aimed at the early detection of this pathology and the application of an individual correction program.

Doctor neurologist Alpatsky Dmitry Alexandrovich

Mantoux test (reaction)

Surgical treatment of adenoids is not always justified

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Ekko plus.

Useful information: Extraordinary children

Today there is a lot of talk about hyperactive children and children with hypodynamic syndrome. Do these children need special food?

Olga Kuzmicheva, psychoneurologist;
Olga Tkach, pediatrician, homeopath;
Ekaterina Murashova, family psychologist

Hyperactive children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, synonyms - hyperdynamic syndrome, hyperkinetic syndrome) is one of the most common behavioral pathologies in today's children. Hyperactive children are distinguished by impulsiveness, distraction and restlessness.

Back at 1973 American pediatrician and allergist Benjamin Feingold discovered that certain food colors and artificial flavors increase the manifestation of hyperactivity. He proposed a diet for hyperactive children, the main feature of which is the reduction in the consumption of artificial additives and dyes, as well as sugar, allergens and stimulants.

Many experts agree that since ADHD is associated with a biochemical imbalance in the central nervous system, such a diet will benefit a hyperactive child. But it is not necessary to see a panacea in the diet. Correction of nutrition alone is not enough: in any case, a hyperactive child needs the help of specialists (psychologist, neurologist, neuropsychologist, etc.) and systematic remedial classes. But in any case, sticking to a balanced diet and healthy eating rules, eating less products containing artificial additives, would be worth it for all children, and not just hyperactive ones.

Power mode

Hyperactive children run so much that they forget about food, often eat on the go, refuse a full meal. But just such a child absolutely needs an orderly diet. Breakfast, lunch, dinner should always be at the same time, in a familiar and as calm environment as possible. Of course, it is the task of parents to follow this.

Hyperactive children often forget about food, while an orderly diet is just what they need.

But you should not impose an artificially invented regimen on a child. Many children who seem to have no appetite actually just don't fit into the schedule they are offered. For example, not everyone is ready to have breakfast immediately after sleep: after watching the child, the mother may notice that after an hour or two he asks for food. It's always worth trying different options. you can devote several days to experimenting with the regimen and find the option that is best for your child.

If a hyperactive baby still "bites", then it's not so scary. But let everything that he intercepts on the go refer to healthy food: fruits, grain bread, lettuce, carrots and always a lot of liquid (primarily clean water). There should not be any chips, soda, sausage sandwiches, sweets in front of children - all these “temptations” are best simply eliminated at home once and for all.

What to ADD to the menu of a hyperactive child?

  • Choline and lecithin are phospholipids involved in the metabolism of the central nervous system. Contained in milk, egg yolks, cottage cheese, liver and fish.
  • omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in fatty sea fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, etc.) and in vegetable oils of the first pressing (especially in flaxseed). Children who lack them become irritable, restless, study poorly and sleep poorly.
  • Amino acids are the raw materials from which neurotransmitters are created (substances that transmit nerve impulses). The diet of a hyperactive child should include cottage cheese, cheese, meat, eggs. But do not go too far: too much protein food can excite the nervous system and overload the kidneys.
  • B vitamins are especially important for the nervous system, their lack causes apathy, weakness, distraction. The main source of these vitamins is natural meat and dairy products.
  • Magnesium improves inhibition processes in the nervous system, which are disturbed in a hyperactive child. most magnesium contains nuts, seeds, cocoa, buckwheat, rye, legumes, oats, bananas, spinach. In winter, prunes, dried apricots, dates and raisins can become an additional source of magnesium.

Nutrients are best obtained from food. But if your child refuses to eat some foods, you should give him vitamin complexes.

Sluggish children

Hypodynamic syndrome (synonyms - hypokinetic syndrome, attention deficit disorder) - the opposite of hyperdynamic. Such children also have difficulty concentrating, but instead of excessive physical activity, they are lethargic, lethargic. Oddly enough, the dietary recommendations for a lethargic child largely coincide with those for a hyperactive child. After all, both disorders are based on damage to the central nervous system and a violation of the biochemical balance of the brain. the only difference is that in a hyperactive child, excitation processes predominate, while in a hypodynamic child, inhibition processes predominate.

Hypodynamics are often sedentary, calm children who, to the delight of their parents, eat well, but also easily gain weight. When raising such a child, you need to make sure that he does not overeat - do not let him lean on starchy foods and sweets, do not feed him at night. You can offer food every three hours so that the feeling of hunger does not have time to form. It is not necessary to offer too much meat so as not to overload the kidneys with excess protein. Less cereals, more vegetables and fruits, fiber. A hearty breakfast is useful (for example, scrambled eggs, cheesecakes, porridge - but not semolina, but from whole grains), which starts the main metabolism in the body for the whole day.

There is another variant of the manifestation of the hypokinetic syndrome, in which a lethargic child has reduced all instincts, including food. Such children must be shown to a specialist - a pediatrician, psychologist, neuropsychiatrist: perhaps the child is sick or depressed.

What to REMOVE from the menu of a hyperactive child?