Thinking of Using Zinc for ADHD - Does It REALLY Work?

Zinc is used by the body to prevent zinc deficiency which could lead to impaired healing of wounds and slowed growth in children.

Many people use it to treat a variety of health conditions such as the common cold, acne, night blindness, high blood pressure, viral skin infections, malaria, Alzheimer's disease, stomach ulcers, enlarged prostate gland, infertility and impotence, just to name a few.

I get many questions about natural remedies for the treatment of ADHD. Indeed, it would be great if taking a natural substance could work to reduce ADHD/ADD symptoms.

A while back, a concerned parent asked me if I thought giving her child zinc supplement would be a good idea. Her child was suffering from ADHD.

"I am not aware of any research study on using zinc for ADHD," I told her. I did offer to look that up and call her back.

So, are there any evidence that it might actually work?

Let's look at two research studies to see what the experts have to say about zinc levels in the body and its relationship with to ADHD symptoms...

Does Taking Zinc for ADHD Symptoms Really Work?

In this study, 40 children between the age of 7 and 14 were randomly assigned to take either methylphenidate plus a placebo pill (sugar pill) or methylphenidate (Ritalin is the brand name) plus a 10 mg of zinc tablet for six weeks.

The researchers measured the blood zinc levels at the start of the study and then at six weeks, the end of the study.

How were the children evaluated for the ADHD symptoms? Both teachers and parents used the standardized Conners' global index CGI) scale to rate the ADHD symptoms.

Here were the conclusions from this study:

Both groups of children had similar zinc blood levels at the start of the research study.

Zinc levels fell modestly in both groups, but more so in the group that did not take the zinc supplement.

Parents reported no improvement in ADHD symptoms with zinc supplementation.

The teachers reported a modest but not significant improvements with zinc supplementation.

It appeared that adding zinc did not seem to have statistically significant effect in reducing ADHD symptoms.

Here's the reference to this research paper:

zinc adhd reference paper 1


In another study, two research authors conducted a systematic review of all the studies on using magnesium, iron and zinc for treatment ADHD. Their conclusion was that there was no good evidence of benefit in using zinc for the treatment of ADHD.

This is not good news for parents who hoped that zinc might work for ADHD.

Here's the reference to this research paper:

zinc for adhd reference paper #2

Bottom Line

Are you thinking of giving zinc supplements to your kids in hopes of helping reduce ADHD symptoms?

Don't bother yet. The evidence of the benefit of using zinc for ADHD symptoms is very poor.

A review of other research studies on using zinc for managing ADHD also showed insufficient evidence of benefit.

But I do know that some parents will want to give it a try anyway.

Here's what you would do.

In the above mentioned research study, the children received a dose of 10 mg per day of zinc. The amount of zinc found in the popular Centrum line of vitamins contain around 3 mg of zinc for children.

If you currently give your child a kids multivitamin, check to see how much zinc it contains. You can always top it up to 10 mg with a separate zinc tablet.

Avoid giving more than 10 mg as it may lead to side effects. It is a trace element so your body does not need very much.

In adults, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 11 mg. Essentially the children received the adult daily dose of zinc.

Don't forget to explore all the other natural remedies used to manage ADHD in both adults and children.

table of natural remedies for adhd image