ADHD News & Research

Dietary Supplement May Improve Attention in Adolescent Males

Taking Cognizin showed positive results on attention, focus, and motor control in teenage boys.

August 12, 2015

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the dietary supplement Cognizin showed significant gains in psychomotor speed, attention skills, and impulse control in adolescent boys.

The study1, published in the August 2015 edition of the Journal of Attention Disorders, looked at 75 healthy teenage boys — without ADHD diagnoses — who were randomly assigned to one of three groups: one taking 250 mg. of Cognizin, one taking 500 mg. of Cognizin, and one receiving a placebo. Each group took the supplement once a day for 28 days. Progress was measured using the Ruff 2&7 Selective Attention Test, Finger Tap Test, and the Computerized Performance Test, Second Edition (CPT-II). After the 28-day trial, boys in both the 250 mg. and the 500 mg. Cognizin groups showed significant improvement in every aspect of these tests, compared to boys who took the placebo.

Cognizin is the brand name for citicoline, a naturally produced substance found in the mitochondria of human cells. The Cognizin supplement, which contains either 250 or 500 mg. of citicoline, is vegetarian and allergen-free, according to the manufacturers. After ingestion of the Cognizin oral supplement, the citicoline is broken down in the intestinal tract into choline and uridine. These molecules travel through the bloodstream to the brain, and — upon crossing the blood-brain barrier — reunite as citicoline, strengthening brain tissue and enhancing neuron pathways. Although dopamine levels weren’t measured in this particular study, prior studies show that Cognizin increases dopamine levels, providing a possible explanation for its positive effects on attention.

Side effects in the study were minimal, and appeared to be the same for both the Cognizin and the placebo groups. Prior studies on Cognizin citicoline were mostly conducted on adults, so its effects on children and teens — whose frontal lobes are still developing — were unknown. Researchers are encouraged by the strong results in this study.

“This is the first study of its kind,” “We’re pleased with the findings that indicate daily supplementation with Cognizin citicoline enhanced attentional processes in healthy adolescent males.”

“Natural supplementation is key,” she said. “Especially during adolescence, when the brain’s frontal lobe is still in development.”

Manufacturers of dietary supplements, like Cognizin, aren’t required to obtain FDA approval before selling their products. None of Cognizin’s statements has been evaluated by the FDA. It remains unclear at this point if Cognizin will have different results, or any additional effect, on children or adults with diagnosed ADHD. Further research is needed to explore Cognizin’s effects on those with abnormal levels of dopamine or underdeveloped frontal lobes.

1 McGlade, E., et al. “The Effect of Citicoline Supplementation on Motor Speed and Attention in Adolescent Males.” Journal of Attention Disorders, 2015, doi:10.1177/1087054715593633.