ADHD and Zinc?

If you’d like to provide healthier meals for your child with ADD/ADHD (or yourself if you have the disorder), then don’t overlook the mineral zinc.  For nearly a decade studies have shown that one of the traits many with ADD/ADHD share is some level of zinc deficiency.

Not only that, but according to research performed several years ago children who took zinc supplements in addition to their regular ADD/ADHD prescription medications benefited on two levels. While it was a small study, it was well designed.

First, these children experienced a greater degree of improvement in their symptoms than those students who only took prescription medications.  Secondly, the individuals who supplemented their diets with zinc also displayed the improvement in symptoms quicker than those who hadn’t taken the dietary supplements.

Now you just might be asking yourself:  How much zinc does a child need to stay healthy?  And the next natural question to follow is:  What foods can we find it in?

According to the National Institutes of Health, children up to three years of age need a minimum of 3 mg of zinc to maintain health. Those students between the ages of four to eight years require 5 mg, while those up to 18 need 11 mg if they are male and 9 if they’re female.

While those numbers may not sound like much, zinc isn’t found in abundance in many of the foods we eat regularly.  But you can find a few foods that are rich in this trace mineral, most of them falling into the seafood and meat categories.

Six medium oysters, for example, contain 76.7 mg of zinc.  Your family doesn’t dine on oysters much?  Neither does mine.  But consider serving your family beef shank on occasion.  Three ounces of this meat contains 8.9 mg of zinc.

If you do eat seafood keep in mind that 6.5 ounces the Alaska king crab has 6.5 mg of zinc, while the same size pork shoulder has a little more than 4 mg.

If chicken is more your style, then you’ll be pleased to know that a chicken leg contains 2.7 mg of zinc.  Nuts are also a decent source of zinc with a one-ounce serving of almonds containing 1.0 mg of zinc and the same amount of cashews coming in at 1.6 mg of the trace mineral.

For more information on the general health benefits of zinc, here: zinc info. For more information on the study involving zinc and ADD/ADHD, click here.

Please share your thoughts or comments below.


Dr. Kenny

[tags] ADD, ADHD, Zinc, Diet, Alternative Medicine [/tags]


  1. Zinc is great, but a mult mineral containing zinc and other important minerals & vitamins would be a better idea. I have Nu Thera and Super Nu Thera which helps: contains most vitamins plus: zinc, magnesium, selenium, manganese. Cathy

  2. Thank you for the alternative to treatment. This blog lead me today to find out about «neu becalm>, I also found several reseaches about magnesium.

    Great, i want to try all of this. Can someone guide me? I take Adderall and 3 of my children take medecine. So I will be the tester. Do I stop the medecine and then wtat supplement and how much supplement can I try? magnesium and zinc and neu-becalm?

    I sincerely hope an answer.

  3. You can contact me, I run a support group in york region for parents of ADHD but we only discuss natural therapies. Nuebecalmed does work for some people….. you can take the zinc while you are taking meds…. contact me at

  4. I agree with Dr. Kenny, zinc can be a very overlooked and under-rated treatment method for ADHD. This is an extremely relevant post!

    Here are a few other ways in which zinc can potentially help in treating ADHD:

    Assist in B vitamin metabolism (especially B6, which has some therapeutic effects on ADHD in its own right)

    Protect against fatty acid oxidation (this is especially important if you are trying to treat ADHD with omega-3′s, fish oils, etc.)

    Regulate thyroid function (thyroid abnormalities can sometimes mimic ADHD symptoms)

    Assist in the production of serotonin and melatonin (helpful in cases of ADHD where comorbid depressive/anxiety disorders are present)

    Promote digestive health (a number of ADHD symptoms can be exacerbated by irritations or allergies in the digestive system, and this can also interfere with effective food and drug metabolism)

    Inhibit the Dopamine Transporter Protein (which is analogous to how some of the stimulant medications for ADHD work to help regulate dopamine and dopaminergic function).

  5. Re: Zinc and More,
    Actually there’s more … amino acids can really work, read Victory Over ADHD, Deborah Merlin has an amazing success story that you must read….cathy

  6. Hi Cathy and Nicolas
    thank you very much for your comments. I am still exploring
    my options beside medications.
    For now we can’t survive without it…. at least for the kids
    school performances.
    This summer will be ideal to try for something else.

  7. I am trying many natural therapies for my son- Please help with how much zinc and what is the best supplement form- He is 5 a very picky eater – but thankfully can and will take pills
    Thank You

  8. Wow, interesting. When we brought our child to Doctor of integrated Medicine. He did just about every blood test imaginable. We found him to be allergic or sensitive to dairy and to be extremely low in zinc. It’s easy to get the zinc into him. Super Nu Thera on it’s own was not enough. The pediatrician never checked to these things and only wanted to medicate.
    Please read my story. I’d love any feedback.


  9. I’m a 38yr old female w/ADHD. Right now, I take 20mg of Adderall and HATE it. I love how it calms me down and helps me to focus but the anxiety & headaches afterwards are TERRIBLE. I get dizzy, off balance and extremely shakey. I’m looking to go the the Pheiffer Lab and get tested to find out if there’s anything else I can do to help with this issue. I’ve read somewhere that the natural medicine Lumina by Metagenics helped someone with their ADHD so I’m hoping that it’ll help with mine to but the only way to get Lumina is to go to a holistic doctor. In the meantime, I’ll try upping my B vitamins, and adding some calcium/magnesium and Zinc without taking the Adderall anymore because the side effects aren’t worth the benefit for me. I just want to feel normal and not like I have Parkinsons disease. Oh,and after I take the Adderall, I have to take Xanax in order to calm down the anxiety when the Adderall wears off. It’s a terrible cycle.

  10. It would be a useful addition to this article to discuss how you know whether you are zinc deficient or not. While studies have been done linking ADHD and zinc deficiency, I just read a pubmed metastudy that pointed out that these studies were done in parts of the world where a zinc deficiency is common (e.g. the Middle East).

    If hamburger is a good source of zinc, then you’d think it wouldn’t be a problem in middle class North Americans. I don’t know. I’d just like a practical way to assess my own health and not just randomly add food supplements.

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