Options for Treating ADD With Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements for treating ADD

Mild cases of attention deficit disorder (ADD) might not always require prescription medication like Ritalin, Adderall or Concerta because there are dietary supplements for treating ADD. Dietary supplements that treat ADD cost much less than prescription medications, do not require a prescription and for some people, may be equally effective.

Why Take Dietary Supplements for Treating ADD

ADD is a chronic neurological condition characterized by short attention span, impulsiveness and disorganization. People with ADD are often restless, scattered, and may suffer socially, academically or professionally as a result of the condition. Medicating ADD often results in a dramatic transformation, helping an individual to function in daily life.


The benefits of ADD medication include the return of basic mental functioning that most other people take for granted. The goal of treatment is the same whether you take prescription medication or dietary supplements, and includes:

  • Better listening skills
  • Ability to participate in conversations
  • Improved reading comprehension
  • Better productivity
  • A sense of organization
  • Ability to focus

Natural Remedies

Vitamin supplements are a more natural alternative to prescription medications for ADD, which are stimulants that often have serious side effects. In extreme cases, these may include psychotic behavior, mania, depression, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea and weight loss. Using dietary supplements to treat ADD poses less risk of such side effects because the herbal remedies aren't stimulants.

Natural remedies include ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and docosahexaenoic acid, better known as DHA, which is a type of omega-3 essential fatty acid. It's possible to obtain these nutrients from foods, but supplements containing them are readily available. Each supplement is available individually, or the three may be combined in a single supplement. They frequently appear in multivitamin blends, including numerous dietary supplements marketed to increase concentration.


Some baby formulas include DHA, and the nutrient can also be obtained from tuna and salmon. General omega-3 fatty acid supplements will usually contain some amount of DHA, or you can choose a product that focuses specifically on DHA. Sometimes the omega-3 labels note that DHA is included in the blend, but do not quantify the actual amount present in the supplement. For this reason, if you want to be sure of how much DHA you are getting it might be worthwhile to look for a supplement tailored to DHA intake.

Ginkgo Biloba

The herb Ginkgo biloba is known for improving concentration and memory through improved circulation of blood to the brain. At least one study, published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, has shown the herb to effectively promote calm behavior, increase frustration tolerance and reduce aggression in adolescents diagnosed with ADD and related learning difficulties.


Ginseng is a popular herb used for a variety of purposes. Ginseng increases the circulation of blood to the brain, which strengthens memory and concentration. There is some evidence to suggest that ginseng may help relieve symptoms of ADD, and that there may be a synergistic effect when the herb is taken in conjunction with Ginkgo biloba. One such study published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience evaluated the effects of the two products on a group of children, aged three to 17, who had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. After four weeks of treatment, up to 74 percent of subjects showed some signs of improvement in ADD symptoms.

There are many different dietary supplements with ginseng in them, including multivitamins and formulas that only have this herb.

Get Focused

Dietary supplements for treating ADD are highly effective, inexpensive and usually less risky than prescription medications. While prescription treatments for ADD are usually stimulants that have side effects, the herbal alternatives ginseng, ginkgo biloba and DHA are much gentler and can often form an effective part of a comprehensive treatment plan. As with any supplement, use of dietary preparations for ADD should never substitute for qualified medical care, and any changes to an existing treatment plan should be carried out in cooperation with your supervising physician.

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Options for Treating ADD With Dietary Supplements