ADHD Vitamin and Supplement Review

adhd vitamins and supplements

ADHD Vitamin and Supplement Review

This post is an overview and review of ADHD supplements. The use of supplements for ADHD can be confusing because every other week there is someone else advertising a supplement that claims to cure ADHD. As far as I know there are no supplements that will cure ADHD but there are some that have been shown in Attention Deficit Disorder research studies to help the symptoms of ADHD.

As I have said before, please consult your physician or your child's physician before starting any supplement and please notify me of any ADHD supplement that I have failed to mention

I will list, in bullet or overview form, the supplements that have been used to treat the symptoms of Attention Deficit Dis Order (ADD). I will include a review of each supplement and a link to the posts, where I have discussed the use of the supplement at length.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids - Studies have found that children with ADHD are deficient in this supplement. Getting the Omega-3 with Krill Oil may be preferable because the Krill Oil has phophatidylserine which may also be helpful for all types of ADHD. 
  • Iron, Zinc. Any good multivitamin should contain these. You should look for a multivitamin that has a minimum of 12mg of zinc such as Flintstones Complete for kids and the Centrum type brand for adults. Studies have shown that kids with ADHD are deficient in zinc and iron and that supplementation helps. Zinc has been found to further improve the behavior of children that are treated with stimulants and some researchers believe that the zinc somehow enhances the action of the stimulants. 
  • Magnesium has been shown in studies to help with anxiety and with sleep. Children in the U.S. are universally magnesium deficient. The only way to supplement a child appropriately with magnesium is with PediaLax though magnesium can be absorbed through Epson Salts baths and this helps as well. 
  • Caffeine. Multiple studies on pilots and students have shown increase cognitive performance after caffeine consumption. The caffeine starts to work about 30 minutes after consumption and lasts between 4-6 hours. One cup of American coffee has about 80-100 mg of caffeine. 
  • Chocolate or specifically cocoa is showing promise as an ADHD therapy to improve cognitive functioning. The chocolate must be dark and consumption should probably be a small amount daily. 
  • Pcynogenol has been found in several studies to improve the symptoms of ADHD by about 30% what that mean I am not sure but Pycnogenol is a strong anti-oxidant and it may help by neutralizing free radicals that have been found to be present in larger amounts in the brains of people with ADHD. Bacopa Monnieri. Bacopa has been used in India for hundreds of years to help with dementia and memory. There are extensive studies that have been published in India and that have shown improvements in Cognitive functioning with the use of this supplement. It has been used and has been reported in Indian research studies to help the symptoms of ADHD and ADD Inattentive. 
  • Phophatidylserine is used commonly to treat the symptoms of ADHD and new studies that have been performed on non-ADHD patients are showing that Phosphatidylserine (PS) may be quite helpful for the improvement of cognitive functioning. The good news is that it is one of the nutrients in Krill oil so if you are taking Krill oil for the Omega-3s you do not need to supplement with additional PS. This is an excellent bit of information because Phosphatidylserine is incredibly expensive and Krill Oil not as much. 
  • St Johns Wart and 5HTP are both excellent for depression and many studies have shown improvement in depression using these supplements but many studies performed with ADHD patients have found that theses are of limited benefit for treating the symptoms of ADHD. If you have a co-diagnosis of depression with your diagnosis of ADHD than these supplements will be helpful. There is a chewable 5HTP that, with the consent of your pediatrician or psychiatrist, you can give to children for the treatment of depression. 
  • Ginseng Energy and the Indian Ashwagandha are adoptogens that have been used in India for year as supplements to increase vitality and energy. They both have been found to have stimulant properties and they both have been shown in been shown to improve cognitive performance in normal subjects in a few medical trials. I know of no studies that have shown improvement in ADHD symptoms with these two supplements. 
  • Ginkgo. There is research indicating that Ginkgo Biloba is helpful for the treatment of Dementia and a few studies have shown it to improve cognition but I do not know of any study that has shown improvements in ADHD symptoms with the use of Ginkgo. 
  • Homeopathic remedies including Attend and Synaptol have not been shown in studies to help ADHD though there are homeopathic remedies that have been formulated specifically for individuals with ADHD that have been found in studies to help ADHD symptoms. The important message here is that if homeopathy is to work for ADHD, the medicine but be specifically formulated for the individual symptoms that the ADHD patient is experiencing. 
  • Amino Acids such as Tyrosine, Phosphatidylserine (discussed above) and acetyl L-Carnitine have been shown in some studies to help ADHD and may be especially helpful in the treatment of inattention. Meat contains amino acid which is why eating a protein rich diet is important for people with ADHD. The amino acids are necessary for the formation of the neurotransmitters that are thought to be faulty in ADHD. The studies are strongest for the amino acid acetyl L-Carnitine. The dose of acetyl L-carnitine for children is 500mg twice a day and for adults it would be 1500 mg twice a day. Amino acids supplements seem to only cross the blood brain barrier if there are adequate amount of an anti-oxidant and of iron in your body (Vitamin C is an excellent anti-oxidant for this purpose and if you are taking a multivitamin you have enough supplemental vitamin C, ditto for the iron). Amino acids help make the neurotransmitters but they work on a feedback loop so that our brains will make just enough. Taking high doses of amino acids will not make more amino acids and will not help ADHD; it is also potentially harmful as is overdosing on any supplement. 

I hope that this ADHD review has been helpful.  In summary, please consult your physician or your child's physician before taking any supplement. The foundation of any good ADHD treatment plan is a nutritious, protein, nutrient and and vitamin rich ADHD diet.  The best vitamins, nutrients and amino acids are absorbed from food not from supplements.  Whenever possible we should be consuming our vitamin and nutrients as foods rather than as pills.

As you can see, the arsenal of ADHD supplements is extensive. Some supplements such as Krill oil, zinc, iron and magnesium are thought to be the most convincingly helpful supplements for ADHD and the addition of a multivitamin seems to make everything in our bodies work better.

Ginseng Energy and/or Mentat (which contains both Bacopa and Ashwagandha) are not bad ADHD supplements to take or try because they are incredibly safe, have been used for years and, as my mother used to say; "What are the chances that a billion Chinese (Indian) people are wrong?"

A bit of 70% cocoa chocolate with a cup of coffee or tea is yummy and may help. The Krill oil has both the Omega-3 and the amino acid that may help our inattention. More amino acid supplementation is probably not necessary.

Homeopathy is of limited benefit and St Johns wart, 5HTP, Gingko and Pycnogenol may help specific symptoms such as memory loss and depression but have been shown to be of limited or of no benefit for the symptoms of ADHD.

If this ADHD supplement review has helped you, please leave  me comments and share this post.  If you would like to support this site please enter Amazon through my site.  There is no added cost to you and I get pennies from your purchases.  Thanks!


  1. I've been taking an energy supplement that has 100 mg of caffeine in a scoopful. Also I've been taking omega 3 supplements with DHA and a protein powder with vitamins/minerals and L-carnatine. I've especially noticed a difference in my thinking when I take the caffeine and the omega 3's. Lately I've really been having attention problems,but this combination seems to be helping. I don't feel as anxious, and I have G.A.D, which seems odd with the caffeine.

  2. It sounds like you have found something that works for you which is terrific. Coffee does not make everyone anxious. It may be a bit like Ritalin in that if you have the genes that protect you from caffeines bad effects then all caffeine does is help. That is the case for my son and I (and you) but unfortunately, not for everyone. Thank you so much for commenting!!

  3. Question. I recall in one of your posts back in 2009 you discussed the phosphatidylserine as being hype, and that you initially "drank the kool-aid." I believe you also mentioned feeding your eldest son the horribly tasting brown liquid that you ended up throwing down the toilet.

    Was there some specific research or event that changed your mind on its viability as a PI treatment? I would be very interested in any primary research you have read that got you to give it a second look.

    Thank you very much for your assistance and your work here is greatly regarded.

  4. My 7 year old daughter is showing signs of inattention at school(since 1st grade)....she finally got glasses about 5 months ago & has improved on her reading...Still, she struggles with completing her class work. I find she is very detailed in the work she completes. She is definitely behind what level the majority of kids are at the 2nd grade level...Today while shopping at my natural market I asked about nutrition for inattention in children. I was directed to Acetyle L-Carnitine. The wellness staff member said a customer swears it has been working for her 8 year old son & the teacher has even noticed a difference...of course, I know nothing more about their story. Is this product safe for my daughter? She is taking nothing other than multi-vitamins. Is there a reason NOT to try this product?

  5. I guess I skimmed over your entry about L-Carnitine. I did buy a bottle & will dosage her accordingly. Thank you!!

  6. Elisa, I was just about to mail this link to you. Thanks for your comments!!


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