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Vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements for ADHD

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Vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements for ADHD

The blood levels of thyroid hormones, vitamins and minerals should always be clarified as part of an ADHD diagnosis. The elimination of vitamin and mineral deficiencies can certainly help to alleviate ADHD symptoms, particularly with regard to:

  • D3 (especially in the winter months)
  • B12
  • B6
  • B9 (folate)
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Folic acid

However, the hope of adequately eliminating ADHD symptoms with vitamins, minerals or other remedies discussed in this article alone is unfortunately only an illusion. Even an actual vitamin or mineral deficiency that is adequately corrected usually only has an effect strength of 0.2 for improving ADHD symptoms, while the standard medications MPH or AMP have an effect strength of 1 to 1.4.

1. Vitamins and minerals are not toys

Be careful when taking over-the-counter medicines, vitamins or minerals!

An excess of vitamins and minerals is just as harmful as a deficiency. Therefore:

  1. measure first (repeat annually)
  2. then only fill the deficit.

As with every thing that has an effect, this can be positive or negative.
Vitamins or minerals can not only have the hoped-for positive effect, but - if used inappropriately - can also have massive side effects.
Just as stimulants that increase dopamine and noradrenaline can have a negative effect on people whose dopamine or noradrenaline levels are already too high, vitamins or minerals that are already high enough can also pose considerable risks.
Another example: in order to reach the brain, active substances have to cross the blood-brain barrier. If substances that use the same transporters are ingested or combined without due consideration, other substances can be excluded from transportation. For example, a combination of certain amino acids that compete with tyrosine and phenylalanine for the same blood-brain barrier transporters can exclude these two substances from transport. Since tyrosine is necessary for dopamine and noradrenaline synthesis, this would lead to a dopamine and noradrenaline deficiency - and thus cause ADHD symptoms. Therefore, an intake of tryptophan, L-methionine, histidine, threonine, glycine, lysine, arginine, leucine, isoleucine or valine without a simultaneous intake of tyrosine or phenylalanine can be detrimental. More on this under Tyrosine In the article Dopamine formation and storage

Just as everyone knows in their own job that things are usually much more complicated than an outsider can imagine, everyone should also recognize this in the field of medicine and not attempt self-treatment without the advice of an experienced doctor.

2. Alternative healing methods are only alternative until they work

Some medicines have a market simply because certain “conventional” medicines are rejected out of a convinced rejection of the “conventional” per se. It is obvious that this conviction merely replaces one dogma with another. It should be noted that in all markets - in the market for “alternative” treatments as well as in the market for “conventional” treatments - there are market participants who only have their economic advantage in mind. For this reason, a solid scientific basis must also be ensured for “alternative” treatment methods.
Strictly speaking, a demonstrably effective “alternative” treatment is a contradiction in terms - if an alternative treatment method had a scientifically or empirically verifiable significant treatment success, it would no longer be alternative, but established. Only in the period between the presentation of a new treatment method and the proof of its effectiveness could an alternative treatment method, if it is effective, not yet be established. During this time, it is not conventional - but it is much more of a lottery as to whether it works at all and that no undesirable side effects occur.

It may be that manufacturers of established products have no interest in spreading new, competing forms of treatment. But that is not their job either. However, they simply have no influence on whether doctors or therapists (who are primarily interested in the success of treatment and hardly in the use of specific forms of treatment) use a different form of treatment or not.
Rather, it is the task of the providers of new (and only until their effectiveness is proven “alternative”) forms of treatment themselves to prove and communicate the effectiveness and safety of the treatment methods they offer. And individual studies - even financed by the manufacturers themselves - are by no means sufficient for this.

However, there is a difference in terms of the marketing budgets for different forms of treatment. The more general and widespread active ingredients are, the more providers there are for them. Studies on the effectiveness of active ingredients are expensive. Individual providers of widely used active ingredients are generally unable to afford such studies, especially when it comes to off-patent active ingredients.

3. Recognizing the self-interest of studies

As with all drug trials, careful consideration should be given to whether the authors of a trial have any particular advantage in promoting the particular drug.
In line with this, there are always studies that show positive results from massive vitamin or micronutrient supplements in double-blind studies.
For example, the effect size of one study was comparatively (not to say suspiciously*) high at 0.46 to 0.671 - and yet still well below that which can be achieved with suitable medication (MPH 1, AMP 1.1). Nevertheless, it would be pleasing to be able to generate this effect additionally.
However, the doses given in the cited study are in some cases very far above the recommended daily doses2, which entails the risk of overdose side effects.
As this is also a trademarked preparation, the results should be assessed with particular caution. Test results are only reliable if they can be repeated in different studies by different research teams. Studies on branded products are generally financed by the manufacturer, who in turn only publishes such studies if they are positive. As studies often have a range of inaccuracy, it often only requires a higher number of studies, of which only the positive ones are published. This explains why studies financed by manufacturers of active ingredients or even branded products should be viewed with particular caution.

In this section we present vitamins, minerals and other remedies that have been mentioned in the specialist literature in relation to ADHD.

1. Vitamins for ADHD
2. Minerals for ADHD
3. Unsaturated fatty acids and other substances in ADHD