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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that can begin in childhood and continue into adulthood.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9.4 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 2 and 17 years old have received an ADHD diagnosis.

For many children, symptoms of ADHD can be disruptive in certain environments or interfere with daily activities. Children with ADHD may have difficulty managing their behavior and emotions at school or in social settings. This may affect their social development or how they perform academically.

Common ADHD behaviors include:

  • becoming easily distracted
  • not following directions
  • feeling impatient often
  • fidgety

To treat ADHD symptoms, your child’s doctor may prescribe medications such as stimulants or antidepressants. They may also refer your child to a specialist for counseling.

However, you may also be interested in alternative treatments to help relieve ADHD symptoms. Some studies suggest that certain nutritional supplements can ease these symptoms.

Some supplements can bolster ADHD medication and help relieve symptoms of inattention, memory, mood, and cognitive function. Supplements can include vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats.

The natural supplements for ADHD listed below have some research to back up their claims. The following supplements are the most popular for mitigating ADHD symptoms.

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in brain health. A zinc deficiency may affect other nutrients that help with brain function.

According to research from 2015, children with a zinc deficiency may experience symptoms similar to ADHD, such as inattention, jitteriness, and delayed cognitive development. The research also suggests that zinc supplementation may only be effective in children with a high risk of zinc deficiency.

You may want to consider including more zinc-rich foods in your child’s diet. These foods include:

  • oysters
  • poultry
  • red meat
  • dairy products
  • beans
  • whole grains
  • fortified cereals

If your child isn’t getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from diet alone, they might benefit from a supplement. Though, note that research on the benefits of omega-3 supplements for ADHD is mixed.

Omega-3 fatty acids can boost the body’s synthesis of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that ADHD medications act to increase.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential for good brain health. People with ADHD typically have lower levels of DHA than those without the condition.

Dietary sources of DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, such as:

  • salmon
  • tuna
  • halibut
  • herring
  • mackerel
  • anchovies

Research from 2014 suggests there’s a link between ADHD and low iron levels.

In addition, a 2012 study shows that iron deficiency may increase the risk of mental health conditions in children and young adults. Iron is important for dopamine and norepinephrine production. These neurotransmitters help regulate the brain’s reward system, emotions, and stress.

If your child has low iron levels, supplements might help. According to the research from 2014, iron supplements may improve symptoms of ADHD in people who are iron deficient. But consuming too much iron can be toxic.

Talk with your child’s doctor before introducing iron supplements to their regimen.

Magnesium is another important mineral for brain health. According to a 2017 study, a magnesium deficiency can cause irritability, mental confusion, and shortened attention span.

But magnesium supplements may only be helpful if your child has a magnesium deficiency. There’s a lack of studies about how magnesium supplements affect symptoms of ADHD.

Be sure to talk with your child’s doctor before adding magnesium supplements to any treatment plan. At high doses, magnesium can be toxic and cause nausea, diarrhea, and cramps.

It is possible to get enough magnesium through your diet. Magnesium-rich foods include:

  • dairy products
  • whole grains
  • beans
  • leafy greens

Sleep issues can be a side effect of ADHD. While melatonin doesn’t improve symptoms of ADHD, it can help regulate sleep, especially in people with chronic insomnia.

A 2007 study of 105 children with ADHD between the ages of 6 and 12 found that melatonin improved their sleep time. The children took 3 to 6 milligrams of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime over a 4-week period.

Before trying any new supplement or herbal remedy, be sure to talk with your doctor. What works for some people may not benefit your child the same way. Some nutritional supplements and herbal remedies interact with other medications your child may already be taking.

In addition to supplements and herbs, dietary changes may improve symptoms of ADHD. You may want to consider removing foods from your child’s diet that can contribute to hyperactivity. These include foods with artificial colors and additives, such as sodas, fruit drinks, and brightly colored cereals.

Some studies suggest that certain nutritional supplements such as zinc, magnesium, and melatonin can improve ADHD symptoms.

However, before trying a new alternative treatment, be sure to talk with a doctor. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of adding it to your child’s treatment plan.