“Presenting Scientific Research for Optimization of Everyday Life"

Journal Review #8: Micronutrient Supplementation for the Treatment of ADHD

September 16, 2022

Micronutrients are molecules essential for proper growth and function in small quantities. These nutrients include sodium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin D, and so on. Children and young people oftentimes eat a diet similar to their parents which in the western world constitutes mainly of fats and calorically dense, nutrient-poor foods. The importance of obtaining adequate micronutrients during childhood, puberty, and even adulthood are unequivocal. This importance becomes even more significant when childhood disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) become prominent. The etiology of ADHD is not fully known, and most likely will be split into multiple categories similar to the clinical ideology of depression. It is already accepted in the biological world that the gut-brain axis plays a major role in many disorders including Parkinson’s and depression. Supplements supporting the gut are under much scrutiny, however, omega-3 fatty acids, certain probiotics, prebiotics, and micronutrient blends have shown to be promising in enhancing pharmacological treatment. This research aims not to treat ADHD through micronutrient supplementation, but to use these substances in combination with pharmaceutical aids so that in the future the child can use a more sustainable dosing protocol designed for longevity.

The journal article highlighted in this review uses children diagnosed with ADHD with an average age of 9-10 years old. After excluding children with specific conflicting problems, the group was split up into a placebo (n=55) or supplement group (n=71). The supplement group was given a micronutrient-rich supplement. The placebo group was given the same number of empty capsules with similar weight, color, and smell of the supplement capsules. The capsules were taken for 8 weeks and upon the final day, blood and urine analysis was performed, as well as clinical and parental subjective scores.

The micronutrient-rich supplement was well-designed with no obvious flaws. A minor design flaw is found in the proprietary blend, where the doses cannot reach efficacy, nor do they provide any proven benefits at said dosages.

After 8 weeks the children had no real significant difference in parental subjective ratings which may be due to gradual assimilation. For example, a parent sees a change in the child’s behavior daily and this may interfere in making a valid assessment comparing the baseline behavior and behavior after 8 weeks. There was a significant improvement in physician subjective scores from baseline to 8 weeks in the supplemented group. Blood work and urine analysis show no real apparent changes; however, liver enzymes are significantly elevated in the supplemented group. This could be mitigated by using supplements proven to decrease these liver enzymes. The last interesting data point presented is the significant increase in height in the supplemented group when compared to the placebo group. This is somewhat surprising in the sense that this trial was only 8 weeks, and no diet changes were made. This height data should be explored in future clinical trials to verify that it is due to adequate micronutrient intake.

This journal article has displayed that micronutrients are crucial for children with ADHD. Other studies using specific ingredients have shown similar results indicating a need for future trials dedicated to combining all beneficial supplements and investigating the results on behavior. These trials should include groups taking pharmaceuticals, eating specific diets, etc.

An invalid takeaway from this study is that a young healthy adult would benefit from micronutrient supplementation. This journal article specifically focuses on children with ADHD. However, the need for micronutrients does not stop if someone does not have ADHD. Considering the western diet is not rich in micronutrients, supplementation may improve behavior and help break the feedback loop of the bad diet practices. Another important takeaway not directly coming from the article is that dietary intake of these micronutrients is a major indicator of well-being and growth, and the single most important controllable factor is diet. The aim of this journal review is to highlight the importance of micronutrients and display the power of supplementation for the treatment of ADHD in children. Furthermore, micronutrients can be supplemented in healthy people looking to promote an environment of optimal growth and behavior.

Johnstone, J. M., Hatsu, I., Tost, G., Srikanth, P., Eiterman, L. P., Bruton, A. M., Ast, H. K., Robinette, L. M., Stern, M. M., Millington, E. G., Gracious, B. L., Hughes, A. J., Leung, B. M. Y., & Arnold, L. E. (2022). Micronutrients for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Youths: A Placebo-Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 61(5), 647–661. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2021.07.005


Meet The Author

Hello everyone, 

My name is Joshua Giblin. I am a post-bachelor researcher/research technician at USC. My interests range from nutrition to nanomedicine and also practical science to improve everyday life. Through this blog, I aim to communicate practical scientific research and present it to curious individuals so that an educated decision can be made. Thank you for reading the blog and showing your support.