Could micronutrients improve ADHD symptoms?

06 March 2018

New Zealand research suggests that giving a vitamin-mineral treatment could improve certain symptoms in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

ADHD is estimated to affect up to 5 per cent of all children, with boys three times more likely to be diagnosed with it.

The new University of Canterbury study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, involved a large placebo-controlled trial to investigate what effects micronutrients have on the regulation of aggression and emotion in children with ADHD.

It is the first fully blinded, randomised, controlled trial of medication-free children with ADHD.

More than 90 children were recruited to the trial and were assigned to take either micronutrients or a placebo for 10 weeks.

Overall, those on micronutrients showed better function.  This included:

  • A greater ability to maintain attention
  • Improved aggression, including fewer fights with other children and explosive angry outbursts
  • Better emotional regulation.

However, there was no difference in core ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity or impulse control between the micronutrient group and the placebo group.

The researchers, including psychologist Dr Julia Rucklidge, say micronutrients could be considered as a treatment option for children with ADHD.

“Although direct benefit for core ADHD symptoms was modest, with mixed findings across raters, the low rate of adverse effects and the benefits reported across multiple areas of functioning indicate micronutrients may be a favourable option for some children, particularly those with both ADHD and emotional dysregulation.”

They say more research is needed to explore the impact of a longer term exposure to micronutrients in children with ADHD. You can read the full study here.