Natural supplements may be an alternative or addition to ADHD medication, though it’s important to check with your doctor first.

ADHD supplementsShare on Pinterest
Monica Pronk/Stocksy United

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common condition that causes impulsivity, inattentiveness, and/or hyperactivity among children and adults.

People living with it may experience challenges with learning, focusing, sleeping, navigating relationships, and more.

Medication is a popular way to manage ADHD symptoms. But there are other options available for those who want to try a different approach. One alternative is supplements.

There are many benefits of natural supplements for ADHD in adults and children.

For starters, supplements can serve as an excellent addition to commonly prescribed medications.

But “where traditional therapies address just a few of the brain chemicals involved in attention, it’s a delicate balance of factors governing the presence or absence of ADHD,” explains Uma Naidoo, MD, nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, nutrition specialist, and author of the bestseller “This Is Your Brain on Food.”

“Supporting brain health for cognition and focus also confers holistic benefit to mood, development, and healthier aging,” she adds.

On the other hand, some people are hesitant to take ADHD medication, for whatever reason. And that’s OK.

For those who’d like a different approach to ADHD management, natural supplements may be a great alternative for improving brain functioning and overall quality of life.

Still, it’s good to remember that research on supplements for ADHD is often limited, and study results may be mixed.

Plus, everyone is different, so what may work for one person may not work for you. That’s why it’s helpful to discuss different options with a healthcare professional, nutritionist, or both.

Important to keep in mind

Before taking any new supplement, there are some important precautions to consider.

“As a nutritional psychiatrist, I always encourage obtaining nutrients from whole foods sources first, while understanding that supplements can offer targeted nutritional benefits,” Naidoo says.

It’s also worth noting that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way as it regulates medication.

So, it’s best to proceed with caution. Before changing your diet or trying certain supplements, remember to do your research to find high-quality products. Talk with a healthcare professional about potential health risks and the ideal dosage for you.

Many supplements can interact with certain medications, making the supplement, the medication, or both less effective. It’s important to assess possible medication interactions with your doctor.

If you’re looking for a supplement for your child with ADHD, it’s essential to talk with your child’s pediatrician to ensure it’s safe and discuss the best dosage.

Was this helpful?

With tons of supplements on the market, it can be challenging to figure out which ones are best.

Here’s how we picked our list of the top natural ADHD supplements:

  • expert insight
  • anecdotal evidence
  • consumer reviews
  • available research

Plus, the specific supplements we’re suggesting in each section are manufactured according to high-quality standards by reputable brands.

A note on price

General price ranges with dollar signs ($ to $$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is lower priced, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher price range.

Keep in mind that the suggested supplements are very diverse, and tablet counts per bottle may vary greatly. Therefore, a direct price comparison isn’t possible.

Some products may be available in multipacks or bottles of different sizes, which may lower or raise the price, too.

Pricing guide:

  • $ = under $20
  • $$ = $20–$40
  • $$$ = over $40
Was this helpful?

Best for neurological balance: Polyphenols

Polyphenols are naturally occurring plant nutrients which serve as powerful antioxidants while strengthening the immune system,” Naidoo says.

She notes that they also play an important role in restoring neurological balance in people living with ADHD.

A 2018 study on dietary antioxidant treatment of ADHD theorizes that polyphenols may balance oxidants and antioxidant levels, and regulate immune system activity.

Naidoo says the brains of people with ADHD may be more prone to oxidative damage. But consuming polyphenols may help reduce it, either through supplements or “eating the rainbow.”

For example, polyphenols can be found in:

  • blueberries
  • blackberries
  • raspberries
  • eggplant
  • onion
  • kale

Codeage Polyphenols Broad Spectrum

  • Price: $$

What we like

  • It’s produced in the United States in a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) certified facility.
  • It’s vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, keto-friendly, and free of genetically modified organisms (non-GMO).
  • It can be taken with our without food.
  • The product includes a blend of 16 berries, fruits, and botanical extracts.

What to look out for

  • Scientists recommend increased regulation and guidelines for polyphenol supplements to ensure safety.
  • Research from 2007 and 2019 indicates that polyphenol supplements may interact with certain medications, affecting drug effectiveness. It’s important to talk with your doctor if you’re taking medication and are interested in trying polyphenol supplements.
  • Getting polyphenols through a balanced diet is recommended.
  • Research on whether taking a polyphenol supplement may improve ADHD symptoms is lacking.
Was this helpful?

Best for neurotransmitter balance: Vitamin C

“For similar reasons as above, vitamin C may prove key as a dietary approach to ADHD management due to its antioxidant properties as well as being a necessary element of neurotransmitter balance in the brain, especially dopamine,” Naidoo says.

Research on ADHD and vitamin C specifically is limited. A 2006 study observed that supplementing with vitamin C and flax oil helped decrease hyperactivity symptoms in kids with ADHD.

However, it’s unclear whether the improvements were due to vitamin C, flax oil, or the combination of both.

Naidoo says some of her favorite sources of vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) include:

  • citrus fruits
  • red bell peppers
  • kiwi

NOW Foods Chewable C-500

  • Price: $

What we like

  • One chewable lozenge provides 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C.
  • NOW Foods tests all products in house for purity and potency.
  • The supplement is produced in a CGMP certified facility.

What to look out for

  • The recommended daily intake for vitamin C is much lower than what most supplements provide. It’s recommended to get vitamin C through diet.
  • High-dose vitamin C supplements should only be taken if your doctor recommends it.
  • Prolonged high intake of vitamin C may cause kidney stones.
  • Vitamin C, especially in high doses, may interact with some medications. For example, it’s recommended that people undergoing chemotherapy speak with their oncologist before taking vitamin C supplements.
  • If you’re taking cholesterol-lowering medications (statins), your doctor may suggest monitoring your lipid levels if you’re also taking vitamin C or another antioxidant supplement.
Was this helpful?

Best for cognitive function: Zinc

Micronutrients like zinc play a major role in the brain and ADHD, says Naidoo.

“Where zinc modulates reward pathways in the brain, which govern focused activity, a 2021 systemic review notes a striking relationship between low zinc status and ADHD symptoms,” she says.

Upping your zinc intake may help you improve brain function, including neurotransmitter production. You can do this by taking a zinc supplement or eating foods rich in zinc, like nuts and shellfish.

Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate

  • Price: $$

What we like

  • Thorne Research meets regulations and standards set by NSF International and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), two third-party organizations that monitor and regulate supplement quality.
  • The product contains zinc picolinate, which may be easier to digest and absorb, according to older research.
  • One tablet provides 30 mg of zinc.

What to look out for

  • It’s best not to exceed the recommended daily intake of 40 mg per day to avoid potential side effects of excess zinc unless instructed by a medical professional and under their supervision.
  • Zinc supplements may interact with several types of medications, including antibiotics, certain diuretics, or the rheumatoid arthritis drug penicillamine. It’s important to speak with your doctor if you’re taking any of these medications and want to add a zinc supplement to your routine.
Was this helpful?

Best for decreasing hyperactivity: Iron

Research suggests there’s a correlation between ADHD symptoms and low iron, since a lot of people with ADHD have low iron scores. Older research notes that kids who were the most iron-deficient were way more hyperactive than those who weren’t.

There isn’t too much research on whether or not taking iron will definitely help, but older studies suggest it could. On the other hand, research from 2018 says iron has no evidence for ADHD, so you may need to see whether it works for you.

If it’s difficult for you or your child with ADHD to eat iron-rich foods, like beans, lentils, or dark green leafy vegetables, Naidoo suggests:

  • adding a handful of spinach to a smoothie
  • topping soups with arugula
  • mixing kale into a Tuscan white bean stew
  • snacking on crispy homemade roasted baby spinach “chips”

You can also consume the nutrient itself by taking an iron supplement. But be careful with the dosage, as too much iron can lead to iron poisoning.

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Iron

  • Price: $

What we like

  • One serving provides 22 mg of whole food iron.
  • The product also includes vitamin C, which helps increase iron absorption.
  • It’s manufactured in an FDA certified facility.
  • It’s non-GMO, kosher, gluten-free, and certified vegan.

What to look out for

  • Iron can interact with certain medications, and some medications like proton pump inhibitors can reduce iron absorption, so it’s best to speak with your doctor before you start taking an iron supplement.
  • It’s often recommended to take iron supplements with a meal.
  • It’s best to discuss your iron needs with a healthcare professional. Daily recommendations vary by age and sex. Plus, recommendations are 1.8 times higher for vegetarians, as iron from plant foods isn’t as easily absorbable.
Was this helpful?

Best for emotional regulation: Magnesium

“Magnesium is well known for its relaxing effects on the body and brain,” Naidoo says.

A small 2021 study involving 66 kids with ADHD also suggests that magnesium plus vitamin D may reduce emotional and relationship challenges, though researchers noted additional and larger studies are needed.

Plus, it’s unclear whether magnesium, vitamin D, or the combination of both improved symptoms in that study.

Naidoo explains that magnesium may help promote a sense of calmness in people with ADHD, including those who experience difficulty regulating their emotions.

“In those taking stimulant medications, a healthy dose of magnesium by what they eat at dinner may help insomnia,” Naidoo adds.

Great food sources of magnesium include:

  • cashews
  • avocados
  • dark chocolate (75% and darker)
  • whole grain brown rice

It’s important to dose magnesium appropriately, though. Too much magnesium can be toxic and lead to digestive problems.

BioEmblem Triple Magnesium Complex

  • Price: $$

What we like

  • It provides a blend of three types of magnesium: malate, citrate, and glycinate.
  • All three types of magnesium are chelated to improve absorption.
  • It’s gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO.
  • The product is certified for accuracy and purity by Labdoor, a third-party supplement testing company.
  • The manufacturing facility is NSF International registered and CGMP certified.

What to look out for

  • Many magnesium supplements provide more than the daily recommendation, which may cause side effects.
  • Magnesium may interact with several types of medication, including proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics, certain diuretics, and the osteoporosis drugs bisphosphonates. It’s essential to discuss trying a magnesium supplement with your doctor if you’re taking any of these medications.
Was this helpful?

Best for enhancing focus and memory: Omega-3 and omega-6 fats

A 2017 review of 16 studies on the benefits of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids among young people with ADHD suggests that these fatty acids may help improve:

  • hyperactivity
  • impulsivity
  • attention
  • learning
  • reading
  • memory

Naidoo adds that they’re essential to healthy brain function, mood, and cognition.

“They’ve also shown to improve medication compliance and may allow for reductions in medication dose,” she says.

While omega-6s are abundant in our food supply, some people find it harder to get enough omega-3s. Some sources of healthy omega-3s in whole foods include:

  • wild-caught fatty fish, like salmon
  • walnuts
  • chia or flaxseeds

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega

  • Price: $$

What we like

  • One serving provides 1,280 mg total omega-3s (650 mg EPA and 450 mg DHA).
  • It’s sourced from wild-caught fish.
  • The lemon flavor helps reduce fishy burps.
  • It’s certified by Friend of the Sea, a project of the World Sustainability Organization.
  • All Nordic Naturals products come with a certificate of analysis (COA).

What to look out for

  • Omega-3 supplements often provide more than the recommended daily intake of 250–500 mg.
  • Fish oil in high doses has been shown to prolong blood clotting when taken with the blood thinner warfarin. Though the effect doesn’t appear to be significant for doses of 3–6 grams of fish oil per day, your doctor may wish to monitor you periodically if you’re taking both blood thinners and omega-3 or fish oil supplements.
  • Taking the supplement with a meal may reduce your risk of side effects.
  • Not all research backs up anecdotal evidence that fish oil helps improve ADHD symptoms.
Was this helpful?

Best for improving attention span: L-theanine

“Herbs, vitamins, [and] foods rich in certain antioxidants [containing] L-theanine can heighten focus, calmness, and alertness without the side effects of stimulant medications, including higher blood pressure and insomnia,” Naidoo says.

A 2019 study on the impact of L-theanine and caffeine in five children with ADHD suggests that the amino acid may boost attention span and decrease mind wandering.

Taking a supplement with L-theanine or both ingredients may help relieve these ADHD symptoms. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that this study was very small, and what works for some people may not work for others.

Nature Made Clear & Focus

  • Price: $

What we like

  • One serving contains 97 mg of L-theanine, 40 mg of caffeine from green tea, as well five B vitamins.
  • The chewable tablet has a pleasant lemon mint flavor.
  • Nature Made follows strict quality standards. Many of its products — though not this particular one — are verified by U.S. Pharmacopeia, an independent nonprofit organization.

What to look out for

  • According to the packaging, one tablet provides roughly as much caffeine as one cup of green tea.
  • If you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine, you may experience side effects like sleeplessness or nervousness.
  • It’s important not to take more than one serving per day.
  • L-theanine may interact with some medications, such as blood pressure medication or stimulants.
  • People who are pregnant or nursing should not take L-theanine supplements.
Was this helpful?

Best for promoting healthy gut and brain function: Fermented foods or probiotics

Fun fact: Naidoo says the bacteria in our gut can produce all of the neurotransmitters in the brain. This means that gut health is just as important as brain health for ADHD management.

“[2019] research has linked a more diverse, healthy gut microbiome to improved cognitive function and even preventing ADHD symptoms,” she says. “Eating fermented foods rich in these healthy microbiota can provide benefits to ADHD symptoms.”

Fermented foods, like kimchi and kombucha, might be an acquired taste. But they can be a delicious and helpful aid for brain function.

Can’t get past the flavor? Consider taking a fermented foods supplement or probiotics instead.

Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Ultimate Care

  • Price: $$$

What we like

  • It provides a blend of 34 probiotic strains, including some often recommended to improve brain health.
  • It offers 100 billion live probiotic cultures per serving.
  • It doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
  • It’s raw, NSF certified, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegetarian.
  • It’s manufactured in an FDA certified facility.

What to look out for

  • Different strands of probiotics may offer different benefits, so it’s recommended to talk with your doctor about the ideal strains and dosage for you.
  • This product is not intended for children.
  • Though probiotics are generally considered safe, people with compromised immune systems or those with serious medical conditions should only take them in consultation with their treatment team, as the potential for bacterial infections is greater in these groups.
Was this helpful?

Best for improving sleep quality: Melatonin

You might know melatonin as a popular sleep supplement. It’s a go-to sleep aid for many people for good reason.

For folks with ADHD-related sleep problems, taking melatonin may help them wind down at night and get a better night’s sleep.

A 2014 study suggests that melatonin seems to be effective at treating chronic insomnia in kids with ADHD. It may not be helpful for relieving actual ADHD symptoms, though.

Nature Made Melatonin 3 mg

  • Price: $

What we like

  • The product is USP verified.
  • It’s gluten-free.
  • It’s free of preservatives, added color, and artificial flavors.

What to look out for

  • This product is not intended for people under age 18. If you’re interested in melatonin for your kid with ADHD, it’s essential to speak with your child’s pediatrician first.
  • The manufacturer notes it’s important not to operate machines or drive within 8 hours of taking the supplement.
  • Melatonin supplements may interact with certain types of medications, including blood thinners and medications used to treat epilepsy. It’s important to speak with your doctor before adding a melatonin supplement to your routine, especially if you’re taking any of these medications.
Was this helpful?

Other supplements

Limited or anecdotal evidence suggests that other supplements may be helpful for people with ADHD, including:

Still, as with all supplements, it’s important to discuss their use with a healthcare professional to assess potential risks and the ideal dosage for you.

Natural supplements for ADHD in children and adults may help enhance:

  • brain functioning
  • sleep quality
  • attention span

Some of the best supplements to try include:

  • zinc
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • omega-3 fatty acids

Taking supplements can be a great alternative or additive to prescribed medication. But before you try any new products, we encourage speaking with a healthcare professional to discuss whether they’re right for you based on your mental and physical health condition(s).