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Children with ADHD Show Atypical Levels of Critical Micronutrients, Study Finds

Children with ADHD may have lower levels of zinc and vitamin D — and higher levels of magnesium, B12, and folate — than their peers without ADHD, new research claims.




April 29, 2018

Levels of certain micronutrients — the vitamins and minerals humans need in small quantities in order to function properly — were shown to be distorted in a small study focusing on children with ADHD, possibly pointing to the nutritional or metabolic underpinnings of the disorder.

Researchers assessed the micronutrient levels of 71 children with ADHD and compared those numbers to clinical reference values, which served as a stand-in control group. Regardless of their specific subtype of ADHD (hyperactive, inattentive, or combined), the children studied showed statistically significant variances in their levels of magnesium, folate, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Compared to clinical reference values, zinc and vitamin D each occurred at significantly lower levels in the children with ADHD; folate, magnesium, and vitamin B12 all occurred at significantly higher levels in the ADHD group.

“Abnormal micronutrient levels, due to decreased intake or inborn metabolic dysfunction, have been suggested to play a role in the pathogenesis of ADHD,” the researchers wrote. Their results may further support this conclusion, they said — and past research has indicated that certain forms of micronutrient supplementation may significantly help children and adults manage ADHD symptoms.

The study1 was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, which took place in Los Angeles from April 21 to April 27. Researchers from the College of New Jersey and Rutgers Medical School contributed to the work.


1 Gupta, S. et al. “Micronutrient Levels in Patients with ADHD.” Presented at: 2018 AAN Annual Meeting; April 21-27, 2018; Los Angeles, CA. Poster 315.

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