Last updated on September 18th, 2023 at 11:51 am
ADHD holds tightly onto the lives of millions of people, leaving the perception that the only treatment is through medication. And while we don’t disagree that many sufferers have benefited from specialized medication, we do believe that the best natural ADHD supplements for adults and children have a place in helping to bring focus and clarity to the problem.
This article will tell you all you need to know about ADHD, from what it is to what the best supplements for ADHD symptom relief are. We will break down each supplement and how they can help as well as answer some of your deeper burning questions. Ready to know more about ADHD? Let’s dig in.
What is ADHD?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ADHD is “usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood” (1). Its symptoms include having trouble controlling impulsive behavior, paying attention, and/or being exceedingly active.
There are three types of ADHD. Knowing which one you or someone you know has, depends on the types of symptoms they exhibit and how strong these symptoms present themselves. It’s important to note that a person’s type of ADHD can change over time as they grow and mature.
- Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: This describes someone who is easily distracted or forgets the details of daily routines. They find it hard to finish a task, focus on the details and find it challenging to follow instructions or conversations.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: This person finds it hard to sit still for long; they fidget a lot, particularly during activities such as dinner or homework. They have difficulties with impulsivity and may interrupt others, take things from others, or don’t follow the conversation rules of taking turns to talk. They also may be more prone to injuries and accidents.
- Combined Presentation: This type describes both the above symptoms which are equally present in the person with ADHD.
Treatment and Management of ADHD
Typically, ADHD is managed through behavior therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Although therapy for both the children and parents is often encouraged as the first option before any medication is given.
It is important to monitor the person with ADHD and how their behavior changes with any treatment plan. That way changes can be made accordingly. Another option for the management and treatment of ADHD is natural ADHD supplements.
Often, when it comes to the treatment of ADHD, supplements may not be your first thought. This is where this post will help break down all the questions you have and hopefully provide you with some insight and how natural ADHD supplements may be the answer you’ve been looking for.
The Best Natural ADHD Supplements
Before we get into a list of what we believe are some of the best natural supplements to help with ADHD symptoms, we want to highlight the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. One study (2)concluded that children with ADHD were “almost twice as likely to have fewer healthy behaviors.”
These unhealthy behaviors included things like excessive screentime, sugary drinks, and lack of physical activity. Above all else, children with ADHD or ADD may benefit from focusing on improved lifestyle choices, which could include introducing supplements.
When moving forward with alternative treatments such as supplements it’s important to do one at a time. Do your best to make daily notes to observe any differences in health or behavior. Each case of ADHD is different and in some cases, you won’t see a noticeable difference on the outside until you find the right mix to improve the health on the inside.
What ADHD Supplements Can Improve Symptoms?
In some cases, a supplement will directly say that it is made to improve ADHD symptoms, such as is the case with HLC Mindlinx Powder. But other supplements may work to focus on one particular symptom over others, such as helping with focus. It’s important to do some labwork to test for things like iron circulation as well as vitamin d levels as knowing these things can help you dial in your nutrition plan. A gut test such as BiomeFX can also be a great idea to help understand what the health of the intestinal tract is.
It is up to you to decide which symptoms appear more prevalent than others and go from there. We can only suggest from studies we have reviewed, our own research, and believing that there is a direct correlation between our dietary health and mental health that we suggest the following.
ADHD Supplements For Children
- Omega3 – Nordic Naturals Omega Focus Junior
- Probiotic – HLC Child or MetaKids Chewable Probiotic
- Vitamin D – Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D Gummy
- Vitamins Minerals Support – Pure Encapsulations Pure Pals or Pure Encapsulations LiquiNutrients
- Iron – Pure Encapsulations Iron Liquid
ADHD Supplements For Adults
- Omega3 – Nordic Naturals Omega Focus or Algae Omega (Plant Based)
- Probiotic – HLC MindLinx Powder or Capsules
- Vitamins and Mineral Support – Pure Encapsulations O.N.E. Multivitamin
- Vitamin D – Nutridyn Vitamin D 5000 with K2
- Iron – Nutridyn Iron Support or Pure Encapsulations Iron Liquid
- Zinc – Nutridyn Zinc Pro
One of the first nutritional supplements suggested is Essential Fatty Acids and specifically Omega 3 fatty acids, often in the form of fish oil. This is because it has been well-researched and has been shown to help with attention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity (3). It also helps to promote cognitive health and cognitive function (4).
It’s also important to recognize that Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because our bodies can’t produce them on their own. It is a major source of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
DHA, in particular, “is one of the most prevalent fatty acids in the brain” according to WebMD (5). And the more our brains have, the better they function. EPA has a variety of health benefits, but when it concerns the brain, it helps to reduce signs of depression (6).
1. Fish Oil Omega-3 – Omega Focus Junior (Kids)
The first Omega-3 supplement we highlight is a junior version made for kids. This supplement recognizes the brain development that occurs during childhood and the importance of ensuring children have a healthy diet. But they also know how hard this can be, especially with children.
The Nordic Naturals Omega Focus Junior is specially formulated to pick up the slack of an imperfect diet. It also helps ensure that children are getting all the Omega-3 their growing brains need to help in the long-term function of their brain and nervous system.
In turn, they may improve in learning, and get better with their social skills and overall behavior. They may also improve their memory and focus, which is especially important for those who struggle to pay attention in class or have difficulties staying focused on homework.
2. Fish Oil Omega-3 – Omega Focus (Adults)
This Nordic Naturals Omega Focus is made to help adults improve their attention and concentration. Although this can certainly be used by anyone challenged with their ability to focus on tasks, concerning adults who suffer from ADHD, these supplements work to help support the optimal structure and function of brain cells, thus allowing for better focus and memory.
3. Nordic Naturals Algae Omega (Kids or Adults)
This is for all the vegetarians out there who want to give themselves a boost of Omega-3, but don’t want to get it from fish oil because of their dietary preferences. Nordic Naturals Algae Omega comes from microalgae. It is a plant-based source and yet still delivers omega-3s EPA and DHA.
Probiotics are living microorganisms, usually in the form of bacteria, that provide a variety of health benefits including a balanced digestive system to improved mental health (7). Often consumed through foods containing bacterial fermentation, such as yogurt, they can also be consumed as a supplement.
According to one study, that involved a randomized control trial (RCT) “children and adolescents with ADHD who received [Lactobacillus rhamnosus] LGG supplementation, reported better physical, emotional, social, and school functioning” (8). Lactobacillus rhamnosus is also a histamine lowering probiotic strain. This is very helpful for the gut as some probiotic strains raise histamine levels which the body’s immune system then has to fight which causes inflammation.
Scientists have long believed that gut health is directly related to mental health. So, it stands to reason that when we look after our gut, by including probiotics in our diet, we help to support strong mental health and can work to treat ailments such as anxiety, inability to focus, and more.
4. HLC Mindlinx Powder (Adults)
Pharmax offers the first probiotic supplement that was specially designed for those who suffer from autism and/or ADHD. This powder supplement combines the original HLC High Potency product but includes two new strains to break down damaging exorphins in the gut to ensure better absorption.
The belief behind offering this probiotic to ADHD sufferers is that studies have shown that their ailment may be connected to their intestinal health (9). By treating the gut, some of the symptoms displayed by those with ADHD may subside.
5. HLC Mindlinx Capsules (Adults)
Pharmax offers the same HLC supplements but in capsule form. We like them because they are easy to take and are vegan-friendly. It should be noted that both powder and capsule supplements are made for adults and should not be given to children unless directed by your doctor.
6. MetaKids Probiotic (Kids)
While MindLinx is for adults only MetaKids probiotic is a great probiotic for children and young people. It provides a proprietary blend of highly viable, pure strains of “friendly” bacteria that have been clinically shown to support immune health. One of those strains called Bifidobacterium lactis is a histamine-lowering probiotic strain. Excess histamine in the gut can cause inflammation and issues for multiple systems in the body. We love the chewable tablet and many parents say their kids really like taking it as it tastes
7. HLC Child (Kids)
Pharmax HLC Child probiotic supplement contains a unique combination of probiotics, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus salivarius and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis, which help maintain a child’s healthy gut flora.
Probiotics influence the intestinal microbiota, modulate the immune response, and support skin health. Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies indicate that HLC Probiotics support gastrointestinal health and digestive function.
Research shows having an iron deficiency is often related to having low energy levels. But it also can exhibit itself in a person as the inability to focus (10).It is also crucial for normal brain function. If you are unsure if you have iron deficiency, a simple blood test can help you to determine if you do.
When testing the levels of iron in children, a doctor should test for hemoglobin and hematocrit, this is the level of iron in red blood cells. Beware though as it can be deceiving because often these levels are normal in children who suffer from ADHD. To counter this, you want to be sure your doctor also checks the ferritin level; this measures how well the iron is circulating.
It has been found that children who have ADHD will have low circulating levels compared to those without (11). It is recommended that if your child measures under 30, an iron supplement is required. It is suggested to take about 30-40 mg of elemental iron. Ask your doctor to check their levels again in about six months. Please note that a children’s multivitamin may have some iron in it so supplementing that iron with a liquid iron such as Pure Encapsulations Iron Liquid is a great way to get the amount needed.
8. NutriDyn Iron Support (Adults)
This iron supplement is used to treat iron deficiency and it works to support healthy red blood cells, helps to ensure proper iron absorption. It also works to promote a healthy immune response. We like that it is vegetarian, non-GMO, gluten and dairy-free but also includes Vitamin C to guarantee correct absorption.
9. Pure Encapsulations Iron Liquid (Adults & Kids)
We like Pure Encapsulations Iron Liquid as it contains a unique form of iron that is more easily absorbed by the body called SunActive Fe. It’s also great that its in liquid form so for kids or young adults that may not be able to swallow a pill this is a great alternative. It’s important to make sure that you’ve had a blood test for any child before taking this product to make sure they are truly iron deficient. Accidental overdose of iron-containing products is a leading cause of fatal poisoning in children under 6 so please talk with your healthcare practitioner before doing additional iron supplementation.
Zinc deficiencies can greatly affect the body. “Zinc regulates the activity of neurotransmitters, fatty acids, and melatonin, all of which are related to the biology of behavior” (12). Its levels can also be discovered through a simple blood test, but you can safely administer 20-25 mg(13) with little worry.
Foods that are high in zinc include whole grains and milk products, and many kinds of cereal that children consume are fortified with zinc. You should also include lean meats, eggs, legumes, and nuts, if possible.
But we do recognize that many children are picky with the food they eat or have nut allergies, and this is where supplements can help.
10. Nutridyn Zinc Pro (Adults)
Nutridyn Zinc Pro is a highly bioavailable zinc supplement featuring chelated zinc arginate and zinc glycinate. The chelation process bonds zinc with amino acids to enhance absorption and make it easier on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract than other forms of supplemental zinc, like zinc oxide. We like it as it’s effective on your body and cost effective for your wallet.
Recent evidence suggests that roughly 1 in every 5 people worldwide is at risk for inadequate zinc intake, which is a precipitous increase since 2005. While certain foods contain zinc, some people are unable to properly absorb it. In such instances, using Zinc Pro may help support adequate zinc status and reduce the risk of deficiency.
11. Douglas Labs Zinc Lozenges (Adults or Kids)
These lozenges have a pleasing orange flavor, making them suitable for picky palates, and the dose can be cut in half for children over the age of four, although we still recommend talking with your doctor first. They work well to help to support healthy immune function and ensure appropriate zinc levels.
It might shock you, but many people have a vitamin D deficiency. This is because it can be challenging to consume vitamin D through foods, and the best way to absorb the vitamin is from the sun, which can be difficult depending on the season, where you live, and the type of skin you have.
Studies have also shown that children with ADHD have lower levels of vitamin D compared to those who don’t have ADHD (14). Although more studies need to be conducted to determine whether increasing vitamin D can reduce symptoms, ensuring your child has enough vitamin D is always essential for normal immune function and helping regulate their mood (15).
It’s a great idea to get a vitamin D test to know what level you are at. From there many times supplementation is needed and you can check again in 2 to 3 months to see how the vitamin d supplement is affecting the number. We like to see vitamin D at 70 or above. For an average adult that may mean 5,000 to 7,000 IU is needed per day from a supplement.
We like NutriDyn D3 5000 with K2 as it’s a highly bioavailable form of Vitamin D3—as cholecalciferol—and vitamin K2—as patented MenaQ7. Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 are essential micronutrients with ubiquitous roles throughout the body, such as supporting stress levels, bone health, skin health, heart health, and immune function.
13. Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D Gummy (Adults or Kids)
This supplement comes in easy gummy form, perfect for children and helping ensure they level up their vitamin D to help support musculoskeletal health, cellular and immune wellbeing, and their neurocognitive welfare. And it also doesn’t hurt that they are non-GMO, gluten-free, and hypoallergenic.
Magnesium and vitamin D often go hand in hand, because, without magnesium, the vitamin D will simply stay in the body unused (16). But while it won’t improve attention in a child with ADHD, it can help calm their hyperactivity and agitation which can help them focus better (17).
Add to the fact that those who suffer from magnesium deficiency exhibit a decreased attention span, mental confusion, and are more irritable, then we must ask the question, why wouldn’t you check their magnesium levels (18)? A child can safely take 100-300 mg twice a day, but again, we advise you to check with your doctor first.
14. Nordic Naturals Magnesium Complex (Kids or Adults)
This magnesium supplement works to help support energy production and promotes optimal brain and heart health. It also works to ensure anyone with ADHD has a healthy mood and cognition. Talk to your doctor first, but we believe this supplement could be reduced to ensure children only get the amount they need.
15. Pure Encapsulations Calcium Magnesium (Citrate) (Kids or Adults)
A great option if you are looking to boost both calcium and magnesium levels in the body. What we like about this supplement is that it suggests 3 to 6 per day, which makes it easy to cut back for children. But again, please talk to your physician first before, ensuring a correct dosage is given.
We understand that the more vitamins someone lacks, the more complex it can seem and may make it more challenging to actually get your children to take their vitamins. This is where multivitamins come into play.
For kids Pure Encapsulations Pure Pals or Pure Encapsulations LiquiNutrients are both great choices. We like these vitamins because they are chewable, easy for children, and offer a well-balanced vitamin and mineral array, including the above-mentioned iron, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc. You won’t, however, find that these include probiotics or omega-3s.
16. O.N.E. Multivitamin (Adults)
Pure Encapsulations is by far and away our number one seller for multi-vitamins. For a source of highly bioavailable vitamins that your body can absorb easily‚ Pure Encapsulations’ O.N.E.™ Multivitamin with With Metafolin® L-5-MTHF hits the spot. This supplement contains vitamin A‚ vitamin C‚ vitamin D‚ vitamin E‚ and several B complex vitamins.
In addition‚ every capsule provides Metafolin® L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (also known as L-5-MTHF). L-5-MTHF is a naturally occurring form of folate that works to support human growth‚ promote heart health‚ and encourage the release of potentially relaxing serotonin. Folate‚ which is also known as folic acid‚ may have additional benefits for women.
This supplement also contains an antioxidant complex‚ which can work to fight off potentially harmful free radicals. These antioxidants include MicroActive® CoQ10 (a patented‚ sustained-release form of coenzyme Q10 that’s almost universally absorbed) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA).
While supporting physical well-being‚ O.N.E.™ Multivitamin may also support cognitive functioning and memory. Every dose gives you inositol and choline‚ B vitamins found in many animal tissues that assist nervous system functioning. Along with lycopene‚ they also help cell membranes throughout the human body function effectively. Additionally‚ choline may promote liver health. Nutrients like zeaxanthin and lutein are also included in this product to help you maintain healthy vision.
As opposed to taking multiple pills‚ O.N.E.™ Multivitamin with With Metafolin® L-5-MTHF gives you all of these potential benefits in a single capsule when the standard Western diet leaves nutritional gaps.
Frequently Asked Questions About Supplements and ADHD
Can ADHD Be Treated with Supplements?
Unfortunately, we don’t believe there is yet a treatment for all the symptoms of ADHD. That said, we do believe that supplements can go a long way to raising low levels of vitamins and minerals essential for overall optimal health and brain function.
Do Focus Supplements Help ADHD?
Considering that studies have shown that those who suffer from ADHD often lack essential vitamins and minerals, it is probable that taking focus supplements for ADHD can help (19). At the very least, you will ensure that the individual who has ADHD has the proper levels needed to support crucial cognitive health.
Is Melatonin Good For ADHD?
According to one study (20), sleep difficulties or sleep disorders may worsen ADHD symptoms. Sleep disorders can also cause problems with mood, behavior, and the ability to pay attention. If you or your child suffers from ADHD and has sleep issues, it is worth talking over with your doctor about ways to improve sleep, possibly using melatonin.
Does Serotonin Help ADHD?
According to research, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with ADHD(21). Serotonin can influence our social behavior, mood, sleep, and memory. It is a precursor for melatonin, and it helps regulate our sleep-wake cycles.
As we suggested above, if there are problems with your sleep cycle, talking with your doctor can help determine if your serotonin and melatonin levels are low.
How Does Norepinephrine Affect ADHD?
Norepinephrine is a naturally occurring chemical that may play a role in ADHD, depression, and other ailments. It acts as a stress hormone and neurotransmitter and is released when the body perceives a stressful situation (22).
When the body has low levels of this chemical, it can make it harder for the brain to focus and augment symptoms of ADHD. Medication is often recommended to help an individual raise their levels of norepinephrine.
How Long Will It Take to See Results After Starting a Supplement?
This depends on a couple of factors. First, what are the supplements, and second, what is the age of the person? In some cases, a child may see quick improvement, such as within a week. In other cases, more time is needed to get the levels back up to where they should be (23).
Will Supplements Improve Symptoms as Much as ADHD Medication?
A fair question, but unfortunately, not likely. That said, for those who don’t like the idea of giving their child medication, supplements can be a better option. And if you are seeing improvement, then why not continue with the supplements for ADHD treatment?
How Do Supplements Improve Attention, Impulsivity, Or Hyperactivity?
As mentioned above, children and adults who have ADHD may also lack certain vital vitamins and minerals. By taking supplements, whether targeted supplements, such as omega-3 or a multivitamin that helps to balance out a larger range, they may improve their overall attention, impulsivity, and even hyperactivity.
Do People with ADHD Lack Dopamine?
Although research suggests that those with ADHD have different levels of dopamine compared to those who don’t (24), it may be more about the higher concentration of proteins otherwise known as dopamine transporters (25).
This is because a higher density may lower dopamine levels. Treatments often include medications that increase dopamine levels which, in turn, help to stimulate focus in the individual.
Does B12 Help With ADHD?
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in red blood cell formation, nerve function, cell metabolism, and more. It also works together with iron absorption, and so those with a B12 deficiency may also experience an iron deficiency.
By ensuring that your levels of vitamin B12 are optimal, you are more likely to ensure that you are getting enough iron. One study concluded that “vitamin B12 and iron support may be useful in treatment of childhood ADHD, especially for learning problems, besides medication” (26).
Does Ashwagandha Help With ADHD?
Ashwagandha, an evergreen shrub that goes by a variety of names, is found in Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Middle East. Ashwagandha is the Indian name for it and is used in Ayurvedic medicine. Some say it has been shown to improve reaction time in children with ADHD (27).
Can Brahmi Cure ADHD?
Brahmi, another herb used in Ayurvedic medicine, is known for its memory-boosting benefits. In one study (28), children with ADHD between the ages of 6 and 12 showed a 66% decrease in their total ADHD score. While this may not be a cure, and certainly more research is needed, this does give promise to children who suffer from the ailment.
Is L Theanine Good For ADHD?
L Theanine, an amino acid found primarily in tea and some mushrooms and is believed to help ease stress, anxiety, and mental impairment. Some believe that it may help naturally treat ADHD as it not only has a calming effect on the mind but can help improve focus and attention (29).
Natural ADHD Supplement Doses for Children Versus Adults
When taking supplements, it’s always important to first talk with your health care provider to ensure you are taking the right dose. Tests will often be done first to determine what you or your child’s levels are.
Knowing the proper amount to give a child versus an adult can be challenging and so it is always in your best interest to select vitamins that are made especially for children. That said, sometimes it’s not an option, so discussing dosage with a doctor first is best.
We also suggest that a balanced lifestyle can help improve any negative symptoms associated with ADHD. Certain foods, such as soda, food dyes, preservatives, mercury-based seafood, refined and artificial sugars, and common allergy foods, such as gluten, nuts, and dairy, should be avoided (30).
There is still a lot we don’t know about ADHD, such as the exact cause. But what we do know is that it can make life more challenging for those who suffer from it. And although medication and a healthy diet can do wonders, we encourage you to give natural supplements a try and see if they help alleviate any symptoms.
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The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.
- What is ADHD? | CDC
- The Association of Lifestyle Factors and ADHD in Children – PMC (nih.gov)
- 10 Supplements and Vitamins for ADHD Symptom Control (additudemag.com)
- Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Fish Oil, Omega-3s, DHA, and EPA Benefits & Facts (webmd.com)
- 4 Health Benefits of Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) | Fullscript
- 8 Health Benefits of Probiotics (healthline.com)
- Frontiers | A Pilot Randomized Control Trial With the Probiotic Strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) in ADHD: Children and Adolescents Report Better Health-Related Quality of Life | Psychiatry (frontiersin.org)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and gastrointestinal morbidity in a large cohort of young adults – PMC (nih.gov)
- Iron: Recommended intake, benefits, and food sources (medicalnewstoday.com)
- 10 Supplements and Vitamins for ADHD Symptom Control (additudemag.com)
- ADD / ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) (evernote.com)
- The Relationship between Serum Vitamin D Level and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – PMC (nih.gov)
- Vitamin D: Benefits, Sources, Deficiencies (healthline.com)
- Magnesium & Vitamin D: Benefits, Dosages & Why Together? | imaware™
- Focus Supplements and Vitamins for ADHD: Zinc, Iron, Magnesium (additudemag.com)
- Effects of melatonin in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with sleep disorders after methylphenidate treatment – PMC (nih.gov)
- Gulf Bend MHMR Center
- Norepinephrine – ADHD, Depression & Low Blood Pressure | Everyday Health
- Evaluating Dopamine Reward Pathway in ADHD: Clinical Implications | Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders | JAMA | JAMA Network
- ADHD and Dopamine: What’s the Connection? (healthline.com)
- Full article: Vitamin B12 and haemoglobin levels may be related with ADHD symptoms: a study in Turkish children with ADHD (tandfonline.com)
- Ashwagandha: ADHD Uses, Warnings, Side Effects, Dosage (medicinenet.com)
- Evaluation of Brāhmī ghṛtam in children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – PMC (nih.gov)
- L-Theanine for ADHD (verywellmind.com)
- 13 Foods To Avoid if You or Your Child Have ADHD (parentingpod.com)