I'm often asked if there is a vitamin for ADHD or other natural nutritional supplements than can relieve ADHD symptoms. As a doctor who treats ADHD, and as the mother of a son with ADHD, I have spent years researching the use of nutritional supplements in the treatment of ADHD.
Natural supplements do not result in the common adverse side effects of mainstream stimulant medications such Ritalin, and are equally as effective in reducing ADHD symptoms. My son, and many of my patients, have found success at relieving ADHD symptoms with the vitamins listed below.
While most of them are not technically vitamins, they are nutritional supplements that, according to clinical research and my personal experience, have been shown effective at reducing ADHD symptoms.
1) Vitamin B6 boosts the central nervous system. Vitamin B6 is known as an anti-stress vitamin because it is believed to enhance the activity of the immune system and improve the body's ability to manage tension, stress, and anxiety. In general, it is essential for nervous system functioning and brain development which makes it a popular vitamin for ADHD.
Among ADHD vitamins, vitamin B-6 also has other numerous health benefits, such as metabolizing fat and promoting healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver function. Vitamin B6 is widely considered an essential "super" vitamin.
2) Iron. A 2004 French research study indicated that iron deficiency may contribute to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, and that children with ADHD who also have iron deficiencies exhibit more severe symptoms.
The children with the most severe iron deficiencies were also the most inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive.
This led the researchers to conclude that low iron stores may explain as much as 30% of ADHD severity.
In addition, past research has linked iron deficiency in infancy to slower brain development and poorer school performance later in childhood. Animal studies have linked iron deficiency to restlessness.
3) Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has been implicated in ADHD. Individuals with ADHD have lower than normal levels of magnesium inside their blood cells than do individuals without the disorder. Low magnesium levels can also lead to irritability, hyperactivity, inattention, aggressive behavior, sleep disturbances, and reduced blood flow to the brain, which are all common phenomena frequently seen in brain scans of ADHD individuals.
4) Zinc. Zinc deficiency is associated with severity of ADHD symptoms. It is a natural booster of neurochemicals and neurotransmitters. Also, Zinc may be more effective in treating the hyperactive and impulsive aspects of the disorder rather than symptoms of inattention, but it is still a standout among ADHD vitamins.
5) Glycine and Di-Methyl Glycine (DMG), are used to improve speech and behavior in those suffering from ADHD. They are also used to reduce stress and improve oxygenation of the blood which makes them effective ADD natural remedies.
6) GABA powder. GABA is a neurotransmitter and amino acid, and GABA pathways in the brain appear to play a role in certain cognitive disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. GABA is a natural calming agent and helps fight anxiety which makes this neurotransmitter a stand-out among vitamins for ADHD.
7) DMAE or Dimethylaminoethanol is an organic compound and brain booster. It enhances mood and boosts alertness. Remember that what is good for the brain is generally good at relieving symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. All of this makes DMAE an effective vitamin for ADHD.
8) Fish oil is gaining increased attention among natural ADHD remedies. Omega 3 is a brain "super" food, and, as a result, should be included when assessing any vitamin for ADHD. Fish oil is rich in essential fatty acids (EFA's), particularly Omega-3 and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Research studies have shown that fish oil improves ADHD symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, oppositional and defiant behavior, and conduct disorders. Some researchers suggest that children with ADHD may have an Omega-3 deficiency.
Compared with results of studies testing popular and mainstream ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Concerta, they found that fish oil was more effective. See this great guide to the benefits of fish oil.
9) Flaxseed oil, like fish oil, is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. It offers much of the same benefits that are found in fish oil. It can improve not only ADHD symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, oppositional/defiant behavior, and conduct disorders, but also enhances and stabilizes mood.
For this reason, it is also used as an ancillary supplement in the treatment of depression and anxiety. As an added benefit, flax seed oil can be used by vegetarians or folks who do not like fish.
While not technically a vitamin for ADHD, like the other supplements listed on this page flaxseed oil has no adverse side effects when taken as directed, unlike Amphetamine-based stimulant medications such as Ritalin. See this great guide to the benefits of flax seed oil.