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Micronutrients may help ADHD symptoms

Vitamins and minerals reduce hyperactivity in adults

Some experts believe that children with ADHD may be showing the effects of mild magnesium deficiency. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include irritability.
Some experts believe that children with ADHD may be showing the effects of mild magnesium deficiency. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include irritability.
GettyImages/Steve Wisbauer
A study found that adults with ADHD who took a micronutrient supplement  had showed significant improvements in symptoms.
GettyImages/Maarten Wouters

The role of nutrition in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is gaining international attention; however, treatments have generally focused only on diet restriction or supplementing with one nutrient at a time.

Professor Julia Rucklidge, PhD, MSc, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, and lead author of study along with colleagues examined the effectiveness and safety of a broad-based micronutrient formula consisting mainly of vitamins and minerals, without omega fatty acids, in the treatment of ADHD in adults.

For this study 80 adults with ADHD took either a micronutrient supplement (42 participants) or a placebo (38 participants) for eight weeks. The micronutrient supplement taken in capsule form called EMPowerplus consists of 14 vitamins, 16 minerals, 3 amino acids, and 3 antioxidants. All participants were instructed to take 15 capsules each day in three doses of five capsules with food and water, according to Medscape.

Clinicians rated those receiving micronutrients as more improved than those on placebo both globally and on ADHD symptoms. Post hoc analyses showed that for those with moderate/severe depression at baseline, there was a greater change in mood favoring active treatment over placebo. There were no group differences in adverse events.

According to the participants who had taken the micronutrient supplements they had greater improvements in inattention and hyperactivity.

Professor Rucklidge said this is the first trial to show that the benefit of micronutrients for the treatment of ADHD symptoms is not simply due to the placebo effect.

"Although some practitioners have been using micronutrients to treat mental illness for many decades the research has been scant or non-existent.

"Many consumers and practitioners vouch for micronutrients as a treatment for all kinds of ailments, but too often their support is based on anecdotal evidence that is not backed by rigorous scientific approaches. As such, many scientists and clinicians have dismissed nutrients as a viable way forward due to this unfortunate history.

"The study needs to be replicated before we can give clear advice to people affected by ADHD. However, if replicated, it will offer people with ADHD another treatment option, said Professor Rucklidge.

There were no adverse effects associated with trial participants taking the nutrients

Professor Rucklidge says the results will open up new doors for children, teachers, families and adults with ADHD.

It will help in treatment options for children with ADHD who may not tolerate medications or do not respond to the first line treatments. If supported by further studies, micronutrients may become a viable and acceptable treatment option for many families, ’said Professor Rucklidge.

"We have recently received funding to run a similar type of trial with ADHD children and plan to launch this study and are now open to referrals.

"We are also conducting other clinical trials in the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group investigating different nutrient treatments across a wide range of symptoms, including depression, sleep and addictions. More information on our research can be found at:

The study has been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry,


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