Inattentive ADHD Treatment with Micronutrients

A study completed in England has established that a regimen pill consisting of 36 micronutrients significantly improves ADHD symptoms.  Results of this study were recently published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.  We know from the previous post on Epigenetics that vitamins can play a significant role in gene expression.  Patients and parents have anecdotally reported improvement in attention and hyperactivity using vitamins and minerals.

The journal Pharmacotherapy published an update in June of 2009 where they reviewed the available treatment for ADHD and concluded that "Polyunsaturated fatty acids (fish oil), acetyl-L-carnitine, and iron supplements (for youth with low ferritin levels) show promise in improving ADHD symptoms."

On the diet front, I have found several recent studies that report great improvement for hyperactivity using Zinc supplements at a dose of 12-15mgs.  Zinc is found in red meat, lamb, oysters, and crab meat and shell fish.  My kids do not eat much red meat or shell fish.  I love oysters but my kids think that this food looks like something that came from my nose.  Since they will not be jumping on the oyster band wagon anytime soon, I feel that it is essential that their diet be supplemented with a vitamin that contains Zinc.  I have recently switched the multivitamin that the kids take to the Flintstones Children's Complete Multivitamin Chewable Tablets, 150-Count Bottles (Pack of 2) as these have 75% of the daily suggested requirement for Zinc.  Flintstones vitamins come in a million varieties but most do not contain this much zinc (12 mg) so make sure to look at your vitamin label.

I had not read much about acetyl-L-carnitine but I was able to find several published studies on the use of this amino acid for ADHD symptoms.  What was most interesting to me about these studies was the fact that this micronutrient seems to help inattention far better than it helps hyperactivity.

Acetyl-L-carnitine is found in red meat and milk and it is a safe supplement when used in doses under 3 grams.  My son and I have recently begun to take a supplement of  acetyl-L-carnitine daily.  The published studies showed improvements in adults at a dose of 1.5 grams twice daily and in children at doses of 500mg to 1.5grams two times a day.  The dose is adjusted by weight so that a person weighing 150 pounds would take 3 grams a day and a child weighing 50 pounds would take 1 gram per day.  My son is taking 500mg twice daily.  I take 1.5 grams twice a day.  I will keep you posted on any improvements that I see in him or me.

Effect of Micronutrients on Behavior and Mood in Adults with ADHD: Evidence from an 8-Week Open Label Trial with Natural Extension.
Rucklidge J, Taylor M, Whitehead K.
J Atten Disord. 2010 Jan 13. [Epub ahead of print]PMID: 20071638 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Pharmacotherapy. 2009 Jun;29(6):656-79.
Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder: an update.
Dopheide JA, Pliszka SR.
Titus Family Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy, School of Pharmacy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.


  1. You have the right idea, but the wrong vitamin. Look at the other ingredients in your Flintstones vitamins and if you see a color with a number (yellow 5, for example) know that this color will cause your child to lose zinc through urine and saliva becoming deficient - the studies were done by Ward back in 1990 and 1997 .... so while there may be zinc in the vitamin, it is a booby trap. Find some vitamins without artificial colorings.

  2. Thanks so much for this information. I had no idea and I will look into it. I will post about this as well to alert my readers about the issue. Thanks again!!

  3. Hello, I just came across your blog and I"m happy to have done so, as I found pretty useful info here.
    We are sort of "new" in this ADHD subject, as my 7 years old has recently been diagnosed with mild(medium?) ADHD. I'm very reluctant to start him on medicine, so I'm researching all the alternatives we have. Three months ago we started him on supplements (Zinc, Omega 3, Magnesium) our doctor advised us to continue for three months and then we will evaluate him again. So far, I have not seen much change in his behavior, if anything I'm afraid to say I think he's got worst(more tantrums, yelling, name calling..etc) I'm not sure if this is because we are aware of his condition now and are trying to understand him before judging him. Trying to calm him down when having tantrums is very complicated now because he would not stop screaming and answering back.
    Anyway, I was told the supplements don't work immediately and I'm hopping this will change some time soon (high hopes!!)
    I've being reading about a homeopathic remedy for ADHD, called ADD CARE, have you heard about it? I'm thinking of getting some of this for my son and try it for a while, if you have any info about this particular product, I'll be grateful if you can let me know.
    I'm also thinking booking some appointments with a Cranial Therapist (the one who massages the head bones) to see if that helps us.
    Thanks a lot for your answer and I'm looking forward to know from you.

  4. I am wanting to start my son on L-Carnitine for ADD. He was on Vyvanse for about a year, with wonderful results except for the terrible personality as a side effect. He weighs 150 and you said you give your child 1 500mg 2 times a day. I was wondering how late in the day to give the second dose and does this affect sleep if taken after school.

  5. The acetyl L-Carnitine can be taken at with breakfast and at dinner time or even at bedtime. It will not keep him awake. It is not stimulating like caffeine. Thanks for your question!

  6. Hi is it safe to take L-Carnitine at 500 mg 2 times a day, I keep seeing the tablets in 500 mg but it say's 1 daily and the usual "do not exceed dose" I'm going to get some tomorrow from holland and barret, thanks, Paul.

  7. The most recent study that showed improvement for Inattentive ADD used doses of 1000 mg to 1500mg twice a day so your dosage should be fine.

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  9. It's really good that you are exploring your options but beware of snake oil merchants - stick to things which have solid evidential support and don't believe everything you read.

    Homeopathy is a 19th century practice based on a whole plethora of totally discredited notions of biology, including the following:

    - that diseases are caused not by germs/viruses but by 'miasms' which disturb our vital life force.
    - that 'like cures like' - that is, that the vital force may be rebalanced by trace amounts of a substance which, in large doses, causes symptoms similar to the disease.
    - That the more diluted a substance is, the more potent a cure it will be. One third of a drop of some original substance diluted into all the water on earth would produce a remedy with a concentration of about '13C'. Most homeopathic remedies are 15C or above. The upshot of this is that the chances of any off-the-shelf homeopathic remedy containing a single molecule of the original substance is practically zero. Homeopathic remedies are nothing more than water.

    Cranial therapy is a form of faith healing which, again, has no evidential support. For starters, the skull does not consist of multiple moveable bones. Secondly while it's based around manipulating 'natural rhythms', the only detectable rhythm present in the cranium is that of the cardiovascular system.

    Micronutrient treatments are an interesting area and it seems like there's a lot of promising research going on there, but it's all about what works for your child - my only suggestion would be to run things past your GP before you go for any treatments outside the medical system and make sure you do your research thoroughly - there are a lot of con artists out there who may do more harm than good (to your wallet if nothing else!)

  10. Thanks for these clarifications!

  11. I just wanted to follow up to find out if your son had any improvement with the L-carnitine. I just started my son on L-carnitine, so your feedback would be helpful.

  12. He is still taking it and it does seem to help him

  13. Tess and Jene, I am starting our granddaughter on the L-Carnitine for ADD and horrific violent temper tantrums lasting 2-4 hrs now. I hope this works as her therapist has not said anything about meds yet but a trip to and institution this weekend was almost made so parents have agreed to try the L-Carnitine. Even if it curbs a little, my house can't take anymore damage to doors/stoves,fridg, etc. She is 7.


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