Nutrient supplementation approaches in the treatment of ADHD.Expert Rev Neurother 2009; 9(4):461-76ER
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic, debilitating psychiatric illness that often co-occurs with other common psychiatric problems. Although empirical evidence supports pharmacological and behavioral treatments, side effects, concerns regarding safety and fears about long-term use all contribute to families searching for alternative methods of treating the symptoms of ADHD. This review presents the published evidence on supplementation, including single ingredients (e.g., minerals, vitamins, amino acids and essential fatty acids), botanicals and multi-ingredient formulas in the treatment of ADHD symptoms. In most cases, evidence is sparse, mixed and lacking information. Of those supplements where we found published studies, the evidence is best for zinc (two positive randomized, controlled trials); there is mixed evidence for carnitine, pycnogenol and essential fatty acids, and more research is needed before drawing conclusions about vitamins, magnesium, iron, SAM-e, tryptophan and Ginkgo biloba with ginseng. To date, there is no evidence to support the use of St John's wort, tyrosine or phenylalanine in the treatment of ADHD symptoms. Multi-ingredient approaches are an intriguing yet under-researched area; we discuss the benefits of this approach considering the heterogeneous nature of ADHD.