Sunday, February 18, 2007

Vitamin C, Niacin, and Multivitamins Can Help Hyperactive Children (ADD/ADHD)

The claim that vitamin C, niacin, and B-complex vitamins can help hyperactive children has growing scientific support. I wrote a booklet that is posted at The booklet describes why I decided to raise my kids on vitamin supplements. One reason was that my three year old son was borderline hyperactive, and after studying the scientific literature I concluded the vitamins would help. The booklet reviews the scientific literature supporting the logic of my decision. At the time there were no literature reports documenting results using the same vitamin doses I chose for my children.

In 2003 a paper on vitamins and hyperactivity was published by an independent group of authors. The authors used similar doses of vitamins along with other nutritional supplements in a clinical trial. The supplements were compared with Ritalin. The results showed conclusively that the supplements were just as effective as the drug. The paper, Harding 2003, is available on-line at (Click on scientific studies, then ADD/ADHD).

Two trials in different places at different times with different children obtain the same results with almost the same vitamin doses. The odds are high that the vitamins work to treat ADD/ADHD. I was surprised that the paper didn’t comment on what I believe is a key difference between vitamins and Ritalin. Parents believe in the effectiveness of ritalin because when the children stop taking it, behavior deteriorates. In my experience the vitamins are different. Once the ADD/ADHD behaviours are gone, they are gone for good. When vitamins work, (and they don’t always work) they are a cure.

The paper also didn’t comment on the difficulties of the supplement treatments. In my experience it is very difficult to get children to eat lots of supplements every day. The treatment in my booklet is too hard for most parents and children, and the treatment in the Harding paper is even more difficult. As a result, I have simplified my recommendations. Most children are happy to eat chewable multivitamins and 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets. For ADD/ADHD I recommend three 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets and a chewable multivitamin with breakfast and dinner every day. I also recommend time-release niacin. The time-release niacin is the only toddler-unfriendly ingredient. Fortunately, niacin has a mild flavor. Time-release niacin is available in 250 mg gel caps. The gel caps are filled with tiny spheres. Pull the 250 mg gel cap apart and add half of the spheres to ice cream or pudding, or some other soft, sweet, toddler-friendly food. I recommend 125 mg (one half of a gel cap) every day with breakfast.

Vitamins are not a substitute for treatments recommended by pediatricians and physicians. I recommend following the advice of the medical community and also providing children with optimal nutrition in the form of vitamin supplements. I will be posting soon about the side effects of B-complex vitamins and vitamin C.


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