If you have been diagnosed with AD(H)D, you will often be prescribed medication such as Methylphenidate (Ritalin) or Adderall. But if you don't want to take medication (anymore), there are other possibilities to manage your unique brain. Adjusting your diet or (temporarily) taking natural supplements can be beneficial. Natural supplements and vitamins for ADHD symptoms may not be a ‘quick fix'. But in the long run, natural ADHD supplements can be an excellent alternative to medication for some. In this article, you will find an overview of supplements that are used for children and adults with AD(H)D.
Note: Always consult your doctor or practitioner before you stop taking medication and start using nutritional supplements. The information in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any questions, always contact a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. A supplement is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.
I have been managing my ADD symptoms for over 8 years now, without using medication. Meditation/Mindfulness, yoga, breathwork, nutrition (mainly avoiding gluten, dairy and refined sugar) are important points of attention for me. As is lifestyle in general, for example taking enough time to rest and to process stimuli, taking care of who I spend my time with and working for myself, so I can manage my own time. But I also benefit greatly by using natural supplements for ADHD. In recent years I have used various nutritional supplements to manage concentration problems, hyperactivity, insomnia and inner turmoil.
I regularly tried out supplements without guidance from a doctor or specialist, because of lack of budget for an alternative therapist or homeopath. Sometimes, the results were great. Other times, there was little effect. Later, I started working with an orthomolecular health practitioner and iridologist. Thanks to a neurotransmitter test and blood test, I gained more insight into where things ‘go wrong' in my body and brain. My hormones, for example, turned out to be out of balance. Also, I lacked the neurotransmitters GABA and dopamine. Supplements have helped me to regain this balance.
Natural supplements, specifically for ADD and ADHD symptoms
Several studies suggest a link between ADD/ADHD and a deficiency of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients. Therefore, supplementing with vitamins and minerals can be a solution for adults and children with AD(H)D.
Natural supplements that work well for ADHD and ADD symptoms contain natural tranquilizers or ingredients that promote concentration and mood. Think of valerian, GABA, L-theanine, blue skullcap, serotonin and Rhodiola. Magnesium (mineral) and omega 3 (acidification) seem to be important for anyone who has problems with the functioning of the brain.
But finding the right supplement(s) for you is not always easy…
When I was in New Zealand in 2016, just after I quit taking ADD medication, I came across a study on vitamins and supplements for ADHD. It turned out that the study participants (all with ADHD) had deficiencies in magnesium, calcium, zinc, omega 3, folic acid, B12 and iron.
I found it very coincidental that the year before, during my burnout, I had been to a general practitioner who was doing bioresonance. This test showed exactly the same deficiencies.
Because I found this so interesting, I bought 150 euros worth of vitamin supplements, enough for 3-6 months. I was skeptical, but after just a few days I noticed a huge difference. I became calmer, both in my body and in my head. In addition, I could concentrate better and fall asleep more easily.
Now, a few years later, I no longer use the supplements on a daily basis.
In consultation with an orthomolecular therapist, I also started using a little less supplements. At the moment I use L-glutamine , magnesium citrate and algae oil as a base. I also occasionally use GABA (a natural tranquilizer) and ashwagandha.
Which Vitamin Supplements for ADD and ADHD?
Unfortunately, the question of ‘which supplements work best for people with ADD and ADHD' is not so easy to answer. Everybody's body works differently, and we all have different needs. So there is no single supplement that works well for everyone. You can try using different supplements, but it is always better to be guided by a specialist. For example, contact an orthomolecular therapist, hormonal specialist, homeopath or your general practitioner.
A popular ADHD supplement that has shown positive results in both children and adults with ADHD is LTO3.
Where to start?
If you are going to use natural supplements for ADHD or ADD, it is best to do this under the guidance of an orthomolecular therapist, homeopath, your GP or another specialist. Unfortunately, this is not covered by health insurance, so many people choose to try supplements themselves. Always do this in a conscious way. A supplement is often 100% natural, but this does not mean that its use is safe for everyone. Read the package leaflet carefully and stick to the recommended dosage. If you are taking medication, are pregnant or have health problems, it is advisable to consult with your practitioner.
To gain more insight into your body and your brain, you could do a neurotransmitter test yourself (online). Or have a blood test taken to gain insight into any deficiencies, intolerances, allergies and neurotransmitters.
Vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other natural resources for AD(H)D
There are vitamins, minerals, amino acids and natural resources to support the Unique Brain. You can get a lot from the right nutrition, but if this does not work (sufficiently), you can consider a natural supplement. Below, you will find an overview of natural resources to support your brain.
Pycnogenol as ADHD supplement
A promising ADHD supplement is Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol is an extract of the bark of the Pinus Pinaster, also known as the pine tree. Pycnogenol is therefore also called pine bark extract. This extract has a long list of health benefits.
Pycnogenol has been the subject of scientific (preclinical and clinical) studies for over 40 years. More than 300 publications have appeared on this dietary supplement. One of the positive effects that emerged from research was an improvement in the functioning of children with ADHD. What improved after taking pycnogenol was attention, visual-motor coordination and concentration. Thanks to pycnogenol, the secretion of adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine was decreased in children in the study. Pycnogenol reduces oxidative stress and improves blood flow in certain brain regions (Orthokennis, 2015).
Whether the effect is also positive in adults with ADHD, has not been investigated (to our knowledge, please let us know in the comments if you know more).
Griffonia (5-HTP) is also regularly used in a natural treatment of AD(H)D. It naturally increases the serotonin level and therefore this substance has a positive effect on sleeping problems, stress, restlessness, depression and anxiety. Serotonin is also known as the happiness hormone.
The natural supplement 5-HTP is extracted from the seeds of the African Griffonia Simplicifolia plant.
Suntheanine of L-theanine als ADHD of ADD supplement
L-theanine is an important amino acid. This substance is mainly found in tea leaves, but also in certain mushrooms, for example. This amino acid helps with stress, anxiety and concentration, among other things. It is known as an amino acid with a relaxing effect , but it is also said to have a positive influence on the brain and cognitive functioning of humans. L-theanine is therefore the perfect natural aid for people with ADHD or ADD, but also for people who find it difficult to relax, want to increase their resistance or have difficulty with concentration & focus.
L-theanine is quickly absorbed after ingestion and gives a calming effect within 30 minutes. This relaxation is accompanied by an increase in alpha waves in the brain (from 50 mg.) and it influences neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. In combination with caffeine (in coffee, for example), L-Theanine increases mental alertness and focus (Ortho knowledge, 2020).
Suntheanine is a patent name for a 100% pure and pure form of L-theanine, which removes the less active D-theanine (which is found in many L-theanine supplements). This supplement is slightly more expensive.
Ginkgo Biloba: popular among ADD and ADHD supplements
Ginkgo Biloba is an herb derived from the leaves of a tree. Scientific research has also been done on this supplement, with both positive and negative results. In April 2015, research was done on the effects of Ginkgo in addition to the use of methylphenidate, and inattention in children improved by 35% (Shakibaei, Fereshteh, et al., 2015).
Magnesium: essential in AD(H)D
Magnesium is an important mineral that many people (especially women) are deficient in. To function optimally, your body needs sufficient magnesium. Magnesium regulates neurotransmitters, muscle contraction and relaxation and influences, among other things, mental functions, the (heart) muscle function and blood pressure. This mineral is very powerful during stressful periods. Consequences of a magnesium deficiency are a decrease in cognitive ability, difficulty with information processing, attention deficit, increased aggression and anger , mood swings, fatigue, sleeping problems, poor concentration, anxiety, depression and tension . These symptoms are familiar to someone with ADHD.
NB! Buy the right form of magnesium
You can buy cheap variants of magnesium at the drugstore, but according to my practitioner (a general practitioner who specializes in natural medicine), these variants are often not well composed, so that your body cannot absorb it. So wasted money. In addition, there are major differences between the forms of magnesium, such as citrate, taurate and malate.
Omega 3 (fish oil, krill or algae oil)
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients because they are necessary for proper brain function and development. If you suffer from concentration problems, brain fog, low energy and forgetfulness, it could just be that you are deficient in omega 3. Fish oil, krill oil or algae oil can therefore contribute to better brain function for children and adults with AD(H)D.
For example, a 2016 study showed that children and adults with ADHD have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body, and since omega-3 is essential for proper brain function, a supplement (in addition to a healthy diet) may help.
If you are going to use a supplement, it is essential to choose the right supplement. There are large differences in the composition of omega 3 (especially the ratio between EPA and DHA).
GABA for ADHD and ADD: a natural tranquilizer
Do you regularly suffer from overstimulation, stress and inner unrest (and as a woman maybe PMS)? Then you may have a deficiency of GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is an important neurotransmitter. The function of GABA is to block the impulses between nerve cells. Do you have too little GABA? Then you can suffer from anxiety, mood disorders, stress and a restless feeling. GABA is also advised by orthomolecular therapists to children and adults with ADD or ADHD. It helps with stimulus processing and gives you peace of mind.
Ashwagandha for anxiety, stress, brain fog, depression and memory problems
Ashwagandha (winter cherry) is a shrub that grows in India. The roots of this shrub have been used by Ayurvedic healers for centuries. The powerful medicinal plant works wonders for anxiety and stress, brain fog, improving your memory and more. It helps with depression and/or addiction, and is increasingly used by people with ADHD or ADD.
L-glutamine to promote relaxation & sleep
Glutamine is an important amino acid: a substance that you need to relax and sleep well. But L-glutamine also supports your body in other ways. I myself use L-glutamine for my ADD symptoms, on the advice of an orthomolecular therapist. But L-glutamine also plays a very important role in stress. If you regularly suffer from stress, you may benefit from supplementing with L-glutamine. Glutamine is essential for building the neurotransmitters glutamic acid and GABA. This makes glutamine very important for proper brain function. L-glutamine is also important for communication between your brain and your body.
Glutamine can be found in red cabbage, nuts and seeds, legumes, eggs and dairy and seafood. But you can also easily supplement it with a supplement.
CBD is an active substance in the cannabis plant and this substance has many health benefits. This castor oil helps reduce anxiety and stress and it helps with hyperactivity and impulsivity. CBD oil ensures that you can relax, especially because it reduces the absorption of stimuli. Many people use CBD oil to sleep, for example as a replacement for sleeping medication. It calms you down and allows you to concentrate better.
Which ADD or ADHD supplements do you use?
So there are many different supplements that can support you and help you get a grip on AD(H)D symptoms. The recommendation is to ask for advice from your practitioner, an orthomolecular therapist, homeopath or another specialist. Or have a blood test taken (partly reimbursed by health insurance) to gain insight into any deficiencies, intolerances, allergies and neurotransmitters. You can take the blood test yourself at home, and you will be guided via Zoom or Skype.
Don't have the budget for this and are you going to experiment yourself? Always stick to the recommended dosage and use caution if you have health problems, are taking medication or are pregnant.
Do you have positive or negative experiences with supplements for ADD or ADHD? Share it in the comments with me and the readers, or in the community . In this way we can help each other.
1 Shakibaei, Fereshteh, et al. “Ginkgo Biloba in the Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents. A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Trial.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, vol. 21, no. 2, Apr. 2015, pp. 61–67., doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2015.04.001