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Treatment for ADHD: Are Natural Supplements and Vitamins Effective?

The natural path

Key points

  1. Some evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help relieve ADHD.
  2. Correcting iron, zinc, or magnesium deficiencies may also help ease your symptoms.
  3. In many cases, herbal remedies haven’t been supported by research.

If you or your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you know how important it is to manage ADHD symptoms.

ADHD can make it hard to concentrate, and control behavior and emotions. To help treat ADHD, your doctor may recommend medications, counseling, behavioral changes, or other strategies. Some people also believe that certain natural remedies can help relieve symptoms of ADHD. Some of these remedies have been supported by research, while others lack scientific backing.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements

Fatty acids are essential to your brain health. People with ADHD tend to have lower levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) than other people. This is a type of type of omega-3 fatty acid. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help treat ADHD. Other studies have found less promising results. More research is needed.

Fish oil supplements are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. These supplements are safe for most people, but it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking them. They may pose risks to some people.

You can also get DHA and other fatty acids from food sources. Salmon, tuna, halibut, herring, and other fatty fish are all good sources of fatty acids.

Iron, zinc, and magnesium supplements

In some cases, mineral deficiencies might make ADHD symptoms worse. The NCCIH suggests that if you have an iron, magnesium, or zinc deficiency, correcting it might help treat your ADHD. To correct deficiencies, consider eating foods rich in essential minerals. In some cases, you might also benefit from taking a mineral supplement.

According to research published in the Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research, low iron levels have been linked to ADHD symptoms. If you have low iron levels, ask your doctor if iron supplements might be good for you. Iron is also available from many food sources, such as red meat, poultry, and seafood. Nuts, beans, leafy greens, and fortified grain products also contain iron.

While more research is needed, early studies suggest that zinc supplements might also help relieve symptoms of ADHD in some people. The Mayo Clinic suggests that zinc supplements might help reduce hyperactivity, impulsivity, and social problems. Zinc is also found in many foods, including oysters, poultry, red meat, dairy products, beans, and whole grains.

Magnesium deficiencies can also cause problems. A deficiency in this essential mineral can lead to shortened attention span, mental confusion, and irritability. Ask your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of adding a magnesium supplement to your routine. Eat magnesium-rich foods, such as dairy products, whole grains, beans, and leafy greens may also help you enjoy better health.

Talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your routine. Consuming too much iron, zinc, or magnesium can be harmful. If you have certain health conditions, your doctor may encourage you to avoid certain supplements or foods.

Pine bark, ginkgo biloba, and St. John’s wort

Some people believe that certain herbal remedies can help treat ADHD. But in many cases, research hasn’t support those claims.

For example, French Maritime pine bark, ginkgo biloba, and St. John’s wort are sometimes marketed to people with ADHD. But the NCCIH has found insufficient evidence to promote these herbs as ADHD treatments. More research is needed to understand their potential benefits and risks. Other promising candidates for future research include the Western Pacific drink kava, as well as the Indian traditional medicine brahmi.

The takeaway

If you or your child has ADHD, ask your doctor about your potential treatment options. Talk to them before adding any nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, or other alternative treatments to your routine. Some natural treatments may interact with certain medications or pose other risks to your health. Your doctor can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of trying them.

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