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Home > Health Conditions > Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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Neurotransmitters in Various Disorders:
  Major Depressive Disorder Generalized Anxiety Disorder Panic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Phobia Smoking ADHD Obesity
Serotonin X X X X X X      
Norepinephrine X X X     X X X X
Dopamine X           X X X
Source: American Psychiatric Association 155th Annual Meeting, May 18 - 23, 2002

Alternative News:

Note:  If How Ritalin Works in ADHD and Levodopa May Improve Attention Deficit Symptoms are correct that ADHD people need more usable dopamine, then see my dopamine page for supplements that increase it.

  • Micronutrient Supplement May Ease Adult ADHD, Boost Mood - Medscape, 1/30/14 - "The study involved 80 adults with untreated ADHD. For 8 weeks, 42 took the micronutrient supplement (15 capsules per day, in 3 doses of 5 capsules, taken with food and water), and 38 took matching placebo ... the micronutrient treatment induced "statistically robust improvements in several indices, from ADHD symptoms to global assessment of functioning, compared with placebo, with effect sizes ranging from 0.46 to 0.67." ... Minerals and vitamins work in synergy, and combinations are often required for the body to utilize to perform many neurochemical activities (such as those that influence maintaining concentration or mood)"
  • Omega-3 reduces ADHD symptoms in rats - Science Daily, 8/23/13 - "The results show a clear improvement in ADHD-related behaviour from supplements of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a faster turnover of the signal substances dopamine, serotonin and glutamate in the nervous system ... The new findings indicate that ADHD has a biological component and that the intake of omega-3 may influence ADHD symptoms ... we have without a doubt found molecular changes in the brain after rats with ADHD were given omega-3 ... We saw that the turnover of dopamine and serotonin took place much faster among the male rats that had been given omega-3 than among those that had not. For serotonin the turnover ratio was three times higher, and for dopamine it was just over two and a half times higher" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com and Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Low Omega-3 in Kids Linked to Behavior, Cognitive Deficits - Medscape, 7/23/13 - "This study formed the screening stage of a previously published randomized controlled intervention study that included 362 healthy children aged 7 to 9 years from primary schools in Oxfordshire, a large county in the UK, who had low reading scores. The DOLAB study reported that supplementation with 600 mg DHA daily for 16 weeks improved reading and behavior in children with the lowest 20% of reading scores ... The study showed that reading scores were significantly and positively associated with the omega-3 fatty acids DHA (P < .003), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA; P < .04), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; P < .005), and the omega-3 index (EPA+DHA; P < .04). Total omega-6 fatty acids also showed a positive correlation with reading ... Results were similar for working memory. Scores for Recall of Digits Forward were significantly and positively associated with DHA (P < .003), DPA (P < .04), EPA (P < .005), the omega-3 index (P < .001), and total omega-3 (P < .004)" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com and Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Vitamin B: Choline intake improves memory and attention-holding capacity, experts say - Science Daily, 7/11/13 - "In the first experiment, scientists administered choline to rats during the third term of gestation ... the scientists concluded that prenatal choline intake improves long-term memory in the resulting offspring once they reach adulthood ... In the second experiment, the researchers measured changes in attention that occurred in adult rats fed a choline supplement for 12 weeks, versus those with no choline intake. They found that the rats which had ingested choline maintained better attention that the others when presented with a familiar stimulus" - See citicholine at Amazon.com.
  • Iron supplements reduce ADHD in low birth weight infants - Science Daily, 12/10/12 - "researchers in Sweden gave 285 marginally low birth weight infants either 0, 1 or 2 mg/kg and day of iron supplements from 6 weeks to 6 months of age. At age three-and-a-half, these infants and 95 who had a normal birth weight were assessed for intelligence and behavior. There were no significant differences in IQ between the low birth weight groups and the normal-weight control group. However, for behavioral problems like ADHD, there was a significant effect from the iron supplements. Of the low birth weight infants who received no iron supplements, 12.7 percent showed signs of behavior problems, compared to 2.9 percent of infants in the 1-mg group and 2.7 percent of the 2-mg group. In the control group, 3.2 percent of children showed signs of behavioral problems"
  • Omega-3 Effective for Treating Child ADHD - Medscape, 9/8/11 - "In an evaluation of 10 trials with 699 total children with ADHD, investigators found that those who received omega-3 supplements had a "small but significant" improvement in symptom severity compared with those who were given placebo. This effect was also significant in the children who received supplements that specifically contained higher doses of eicosapentaenoic acid ... Omega-3 supplements that included higher doses of eicosapentaenoic acid were also significantly associated with lowering ADHD symptoms ... There were no significant differences found for any dose of docosahexaenoic acid or α-linolenic acid, or between omega-3 monotherapy vs augmenting traditional ADHD medications with omega-3" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com.
  • Ritalin may ease early iron deficiency damage - Science Daily, 2/2/11 - "When children are deprived of iron at any point during the last trimester of pregnancy or the first six months of life -- a critical period of brain development -- they suffer brain damage at least through early adulthood, and possibly beyond. In particular, their motor function can be impaired as well as their ability to focus ... Iron-deficient adults often have restless leg syndrome. People who become iron deficient after three years of age can recover by taking iron supplements ... iron deficiency has a major hit on dopamine systems" - See Slow Fe Slow Release Iron Tablets 90-Count Box at Amazon.com.
  • Serum ferritin and amphetamine response in youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder - J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2010 Dec;20(6):495-502 - "Their ADHD symptoms were moderately severe at baseline (SNAP item mean = 2.1). Their mean ferritin concentration was 18.4 ng/mL, with 23% of the participants having a level below 7, the assay-defined threshold for ID. Serum ferritin was inversely correlated with baseline inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and total ADHD symptom scores (Partial Spearman's r = -0.31, p = 0.04; r = -0.42, p < 0.006; and r = -0.43, p < 0.004, respectively) and with the weight-adjusted dose of amphetamine used to optimize clinical response (Partial Spearman's r = -0.45, p < 0.007). Psychotropic-treatment history moderated some, but not all, of these associations, with previously medicated children showing a stronger association between ferritin concentration and ADHD symptom severity" - See Slow Fe Slow Release Iron Tablets 90-Count Box.
  • Supplementation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium and zinc in children seeking medical advice for attention-deficit/hyperactivity problems - an observational cohort study - Lipids Health Dis. 2010 Sep 24;9(1):105 - "After 12 weeks of consumption of a combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as magnesium and zinc most subjects showed a considerable reduction in symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity/impulsivity assessed by SNAP-IV. Further, the assessment by SDQ revealed fewer emotional problems at the end of the study period compared to baseline and also sleeping disorders. Mainly problems to fall asleep, decreased during the 12 week nutritional therapy" - Note:  If it were me I'd skip the omega-6.  Most people get way too much as it is.
  • EPA supplementation improves teacher rated behaviour and oppositional symptoms in children with ADHD - Acta Paediatr. 2010 May 19 - "Two ADHD subgroups (oppositional and less hyperactive/impulsive children) improved after 15 weeks EPA treatment. Increasing EPA and decreasing omega-6 fatty acid concentrations in phospholipids were related to clinical improvement" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com.
  • Tea compounds may boost attention span: Unilever - Nutra USA, 1/19/10 - "This study provided further evidence that the L-theanine/caffeine combination improves attention on the switch task ... The improvement in accuracy in combination with unaltered response speed is in line with previous studies ... Tentative evidence was [also] found that the effect of the L-theanine/caffeine combination on attention is not specific to the visual modality, as we found faster responses in both the visual and auditory modality on the intersensory task after the combination as compared to placebo ... Taken together with the previous studies, we conclude that a high dose of L-theanine combined with caffeine, at the level of a single cup of tea, can help to improve attention" - [Abstract] - See theanine at Amazon.com.
  • L-theanine and caffeine improve task switching but not intersensory attention or subjective alertness - Appetite. 2010 Jan 13 - "The results support previous evidence that L-theanine and caffeine in combination can improve attention" - See Jarrow Formulas, Theanine 200.
  • Melatonin Treatment for Insomnia in Pediatric Patients with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (January) - Ann Pharmacother. 2009 Dec 22 - "Available data suggest that melatonin is a well-tolerated and efficacious treatment option for pediatric patients with chronic SOI and ADHD" - See melatonin at Amazon.com.
  • New study links DHA type of omega-3 to better nervous-system function - Science Daily, 12/16/09 - "The omega-3 essential fatty acids commonly found in fatty fish and algae help animals avoid sensory overload ... The finding connects low omega-3s to the information-processing problems found in people with schizophrenia; bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders; Huntington's disease; and other afflictions of the nervous system" - See Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Children With ADHD at Risk for Zinc and Copper Deficiency - Medscape, 11/3/09 - "this patient population is at risk for low trace mineral status, including deficiencies in zinc and copper — minerals that may play a crucial role in the production of dopamine, norepinephrine, and melatonin, which regulates sleep ... Presented here at the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 56th Annual Meeting, a study conducted by investigators at the University of British Columbia and the Children's and Women's Health Centre in Vancouver, Canada, showed among 44 children aged 6 to 12 years with ADHD, rates of zinc and copper deficiency were 45% and 35%, respectively" - See Jarrow Zinc Balance at Amazon.com.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Problems Associated With Low Folate Levels In Pregnant Women - Science Daily, 10/28/09 - "A study published in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry finds that low maternal folate levels is linked to the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity problems in children at age seven to nine years"
  • Multivitamins and minerals help children's brain function: study - Nutra USA, 11/5/08 - "the children in the vitamin/mineral group performed more accurately on two tests of attention. Indeed, the researchers noted the first signs of improvement only three hours after the first dose on the first day" - [Abstract]
  • Multivitamins and minerals help children's brain function: study - Br J Nutr. 2008 Nov;100(5):1086-96 - "these results would seem to suggest that vitamin/mineral supplementation has the potential to improve brain function in healthy children"
  • Omega-3 carrier key to boosting children's attention: study - Nutra USA, 5/15/08 - "Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) scores ... In terms of attention measures, both omega-3 supplemented groups produced increased in TOVA scores, with an increase of 94 per cent in the PL-omega-3 group and 37 per cent in the fish oil group" - [Abstract] - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com.
  • Correlation between changes in blood fatty acid composition and visual sustained attention performance in children with inattention: effect of dietary n-3 fatty acids containing phospholipids - Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1170-80 - "Test of Variables of Attention; TOVA ... Total TOVA scores increased in the PL-n-3 (mean +/- SD: 3.35 +/- 1.86) and FO (1.72 +/- 1.67) groups but not in the placebo group (-0.42 +/- 2.51) (PL-n-3 > FO > placebo; P < 0.001). A significant correlation between the alterations in FAs and increased TOVA scores mainly occurred in the PL-n-3 group"
  • L-Acetylcarnitine Curbs ADHD Associated With Fragile X Syndrome - Medscape, 3/12/08 - "L-acetylcarnitine (LAC) may be considered an alternative to stimulants for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children with fragile X syndrome, based on results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled study" - See acetyl l-carnitine products at Amazon.com.
  • Fatty acid status and behavioural symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adolescents: A case-control study - Nutr J. 2008 Feb 14;7(1):8 - "ADHD adolescents consumed more energy and fat than controls but had similar anthropometry. ADHD children consumed equivalent amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to controls, however they had significantly lower levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) and total omega-3 fatty acids, higher omega-6 fatty acids and a lower ratio of n-3:n-6 fatty acids than control subjects. In addition, low omega-3 status correlated with higher scores on several Conners' behavioural scales ... These data suggest that adolescents with ADHD continue to display abnormal essential fatty acid profiles that are often observed in younger children and distinctly different from normal controls of similar age. Further these red blood cell fatty acid differences are not explained by differences in intake. This suggests that there are metabolic differences in fatty acid handling between ADHD adolescents and normal controls. The value of omega-3 supplements to improve fatty acid profiles and possibly behaviours associated with ADHD, need to be examined" - See Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com and Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com.
  • Effects of an open-label pilot study with high-dose EPA/DHA concentrates on plasma phospholipids and behavior in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - Nutr J. 2007 Jul 13;6(1):16 - "Nine children were initially supplemented with 16.2g EPA/DHA concentrates per day. The dosage was adjusted dependent on the ratio of arachidonic acid (AA) to EPA in the isolated plasma phospholipids at four weeks to reach a level normally found in the Japanese population ... A psychiatrist (blind to supplement compliance or dosage modifications) reported significant improvements in behavior (inattention, hyperactivity, oppositional/defiant behavior, and conduct disorder). There was also a significant correlation between the reduction in the AA:EPA ratio and global severity of illness scores" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com.
  • Fish Oil for ADHD? - Dr. Weil, 8/7/06
  • More support for omega-3 calming ADHD kids - Nutra USA, 6/22/06
  • Pine Bark Extract May Effectively Treat ADHD in Boys - Medscape, 6/23/06 - "61 children with ADHD were randomized 2:1 to receive 1 mg/kg/day pine bark extract or placebo for 4 weeks. Average age was 9.5 years ... The pine bark extract group had a significant reduction in hyperactivity and improved attention, visual-motor coordination, and concentration, whereas there were no positive effects noted in the placebo group" - See iHerb Pycnogenol products.
  • Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol - Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;15(6):329-35 - "1-month Pycnogenol administration caused a significant reduction of hyperactivity, improves attention and visual-motoric coordination and concentration of children with ADHD. In the placebo group no positive effects were found. One month after termination of Pycnogenol administration a relapse of symptoms was noted. Our results point to an option to use Pycnogenol as a natural supplement to relieve ADHD symptoms of children" - See iHerb Pycnogenol products.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids in ADHD and related neurodevelopmental disorders - Int Rev Psychiatry. 2006 Apr;18(2):155-72 - "Dietary supplementation with fish oils (providing EPA and DHA) appears to alleviate ADHD-related symptoms in at least some children, and one study of DCD children also found benefits for academic achievement" - See Mega Twin EPA at iHerb.
  • ADHD teens calmed by omega oils - Nutra USA, 3/28/06
  • Advances in Nutritional Therapy for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Life Extension Magazine, 7/05
  • Study Links Low Iron to ADHD - WebMD, 12/17/04 - "Low iron levels in the brain are known to alter the activity of dopamine, a chemical involved in controlling movement. The researchers suggest that this could explain the observed link between iron stores and ADHD"
  • Iron Supplementation May Help Children With ADHD - Medscape, 12/6/04 - "Iron deficiency has been previously considered a potent cause of poor cognitive impairment, learning disability, and psychomotor instability ... ferritin levels were significantly lower in children with ADHD"
  • Treating Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults? - Dr. Weil, 6/7/04
  • Distracted Young Women May Need More Iron - Intelihealth, 4/28/04 - "Women in the Penn State study who were iron-deficient performed significantly worse on memory and attention tests than healthy women, and an iron supplement was all it took to correct the problem" - See iron supplements at Amazon.com.
  • Reducing Anxiety Related to ADHD? - Dr. Weil, 4/13/04
  • Zinc to underpin ADHD treatment? - Nutra USA, 4/8/04 - "Zinc supplements could increase the effectiveness of stimulants used to treat children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder"
  • Melatonin Helpful for Delayed Sleep Onset in Children With ADHD - Medscape, 10/21/03
  • Phospholipids: Versatile Nutraceutical Ingredients For Functional Foods - Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals, 12/02 - "Ryser concluded that PS yielded clinically significant benefit to 25 of the 27 children. PS improved attention, concentration, learning, behaviour and academic performance, seemingly extending their level of benefit once they had "plateaued" on fish oil and other nutritional supplements. Those prescribed methylphenidate (Ritalin) or other pharmaceuticals also seemed to derive additional benefit from PS which also benefited the depression and anxiety commonly seen in these children" - See iHerb PS products.
  • Herbs for ADD? - Dr. Weil, 10/8/02 - "Dr. Newmark does recommend a dietary supplement, omega-3 fatty acids, for all children with ADHD because levels of omega-3s in the plasma and red blood cells of children with ADHD are lower than in normal children"
  • L-Carnitine Effective for Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder - New Hope Natural Media, 12/19/02 - "According to the parents’ ratings, 54% of the children showed significant improvement in their behavior while taking L-carnitine, whereas only 13% improved during the placebo period. The teachers’ ratings showed a similar, though slightly less pronounced, advantage of L-carnitine over placebo" - See l-carnitine at Amazon.com.  Also see acetyl-l-carnitine.
  • Essential Fatty Acids Improve Thought Process and Behavior in Children with ADHD - New Hope Natural Media Online, 6/13/02 - "ADHD is characterized by impulsive behavior, lack of concentration, restlessness and, in some cases, learning disabilities ... The children were given either a supplement containing 186 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 480 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), 96 mg of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), 864 mg of linoleic acid, and 60 IU of vitamin E per day, or a placebo ... the children who took the essential fatty acid supplement had significant improvement in symptom scores related to learning and behavior"
  • Omega 3: Implications in human health and disease - PowerPak (39 page CME course for Registered Dietitians), exp. 8/1/03 - "In 53 ADHD patients, Burgess reported significant deficits of PUFA, including EPA and DHA, in plasma and red blood cell lipids.179 Twenty-one of these patients exhibited symptoms of EFA deficiency, including dry skin and hair abnormalities, increased thirst and urination, and brittle nails. Subsets of the ADHD population with lower compositions of blood lipid omega 3 had significantly more behavioral problems (including temper tantrums) and learning, health, and sleep-related problems than subjects with higher levels of omega 3"
  • Many Parents Use Alternative Therapies for ADHD - Clinical Psychiatry News, 4/02
  • Can Fructose Trigger Hyperactivity in Kids? - Dr. Weil, 2/26/02
  • Dietary Supplement [docosahexaenoic acid] Not Effective in Treating ADHD - WebMD, 8/16/01
  • Be Careful of Alternative Treatments for ADHD - WebMD, 9/11/00 - "Abramowitz agrees that one dietary supplement that seems promising in the research so far is alpha omega-3 fatty acids."
  • Polyunsaturated Fats and Neurological Disorders - Nutrition Science News, 9/00
  • ADHD A Modern Malady - Nutrition Science News, 8/00

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