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ADD & ADHD Center

The Best Supplements for ADD/ADHD

author image Cindy Ell
Cindy Ell began writing professionally in 1990. A former medical librarian, she has written materials for hospitals, medical associations, the "Nashville Scene" and "Coping Magazine." She received her Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Massachusetts and her Master of Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute. She is currently a full-time freelance medical writer.
The Best Supplements for ADD/ADHD
People with inattentive ADHD have trouble focusing at work or school. Photo Credit: Devonyu/iStock/Getty Images

ADHD -- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- is one of the most common disorders of childhood. Its symptoms often persist into adulthood as well, and may negatively impact learning, work and home life. There are three types of ADHD, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some people with ADHD are primarily hyperactive, some are primarily inattentive and some exhibit a combination of symptoms. Supplements may help ADHD inattentives. Before taking any supplements, consult a qualified health care professional to find out if they are right for you.

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Julia Ross writes in her book, "The Mood Cure," that tyrosine is a useful supplement for ADHD patients and others who feel flat, tired and easily distracted. Ross claims that increased alertness and focus can sometimes be seen as quickly as 10 minutes after ingestion. Tyrosine, an amino acid, is a key player in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain involved with mood and motivation. Abundant in high protein foods including soy products, cheeses, turkey, fish and nuts, it can also be taken in supplement form. Like other supplements, tyrosine should be used under the supervision of a qualified health care professional.


The mineral magnesium plays a role in more than 300 metabolic reactions. Natalie Sinn, a researcher affiliated with the School of Health Sciences at the University of South Australia, wrote in the journal "Nutrition Reviews" that an astonishing 95 percent of children with a diagnosis of ADHD were found to have low levels of magnesium in their bloodstreams. Moreover, the children with the lowest levels of magnesium were the most inattentive. Sinn described several studies of ADHD patients in which supplemental magnesium improved hyperactivity, school performance and distractibility. Green leafy vegetables, nuts and unrefined grains are good sources of magnesium. Magnesium can also be obtained through high-quality multivitamins or from individual supplements. Consult a qualified health care professional before adding magnesium to your child's or your own dietary regimen.

Pine Bark Extract

The extract derived from the bark of the maritime pine, a tree that is grown in a large forest in France near Bordeaux, may be a useful herbal supplement for ADHD and a number of other health conditions. Natalie Sinn writes that pine bark extract may enhance the flow of blood to the brain. This is important because impaired cerebral blood flow has been implicated in ADHD. Sinn describes a scientific study in which children with ADHD symptoms were treated with either pine bark extract or an inactive placebo. Parent and teacher ratings of concentration and attention improved significantly for the group that received the pine bark extract. However, the use of pine bark extract is not an adequate replacement for advice and treatment from a qualified health care professional.

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  • "Nutrition Reviews"; Nutritional and Dietary Influences on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; N. Sinn; October 2008
  • "The Mood Cure: The 4-Step Program to Rebalance Your Emotional Chemistry and Rediscover Your Natural Sense of Well-Being"; Julia Ross; 2002
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