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ADD & ADHD Center

Vitamins to Add to Ritalin for Help With Side Effects

author image Jazzy Joyner
Jazzy Joyner is a retired educator who started her career as a poet and creative writer in high school. She majored in English in college and graduated to become a language arts teacher. She edited a school newspaper while teaching adult education. Joyner holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Wayne State University.
Vitamins to Add to Ritalin for Help With Side Effects
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Ritalin is a methylphenidate HCL, a stimulant used to treat attention deficit hyperactive disorder or ADHD. Many side effects are associated with this drug. Vitamin B3, B5 B6, vitamin C and essential fatty acids could alleviate ADHD symptoms. However, there is not sufficient evidence that these nutrients are effective. They should not replace traditional treatment.

The Nature of Ritalin

Ritalin works by raising levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain -- chemicals or neurotransmitters that increase pleasure, movement and attention. People with ADHD have altered brain chemistry and activity compared to those without ADHD. They are characterized by overly active, impulsive behavior. Ritalin is commonly prescribed by a doctor to bring this behavior under control. You may experience many side effects. The most common ones include headaches, rapid heart rate and arrhythmia, blood pressure changes, nervousness, nausea, dizziness, impulsivity, inability to sit still, stomach pain, growth suppression, weight loss, insomnia, hallucinations and skin rashes.

B vitamins

Vitamins B3, B5 and B6 have been the object of many studies that investigate the effects they could have on Ritalin side effects. However, the results are just as diverse as the chemical imbalances of those with ADHD; some may respond more to vitamin B3 than B6 or B5 to B3. It depends on the specific chemicals that are out of balance in each person. Vitamin B3 and B5 may help stop hallucinations from drug use, migraine headaches, dizziness, depression and general ADHD symptoms. B5 may also help low blood pressure. Vitamin B6 is the most common B vitamin associated with ADHD. It's a necessary nutrient for the production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, the brain chemicals that are imbalanced in those with ADHD. Large doses of B vitamins can be unsafe. More than 5mg B5 a day for adults or 2.5mg for children could cause diarrhea. Vitamin B3 may cause flushing or a red skin rash. If more than 3mg for adults and 1.5mg for children is taken, liver problems, gout, ulcers, high blood sugar, irregular heartbeat or other serious problems could occur. Vitamin B6 use, like all the B vitamins, must be closely monitored by a doctor. Too much can lead to nerve damage and numbness. Infants require 0.1mg to 0.3mg a day; children need 0.5g to 1.0g a day, and adults require 1.3mg to 1.5mg a day.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C may help circulation and related illnesses that some Ritalin users may experience, such as heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure. Some people have stomach upset, heartburn, headache or other complaints when taking vitamin C. Amounts in excess of 2,000mg a day can be unsafe and lead to kidney stones, diarrhea and other health problems -- especially for those with diabetes, blood disorder, cancer and sickle cell disease.

Essential fatty acids and Ritalin

Essential fatty acids may improve normal brain function and heart health, two major concerns for those using Ritalin. Therefore, these nutrients, which are often deficient in those with ADHD, are sometimes a part of studies done on ADHD patients who take Ritalin. In a study done by Dr. Irene Colquhoun and Sandy Bunday of the Hyperactive Children's Support Group, people with ADHD were found to lack essential fatty acids. The findings of this study were published in 1981, in a publication called Medical Hypothesis. That study was a catalyst for continuous studies on the subject that support the original findings. The cause for the essential fatty acids deficiency is linked to an inability to metabolize it, a leak of these nutrients from the intestines or an increased need for them.

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