Friday, 27 October 2017

Vitamin-mineral mix for ADHD part 2

"Although direct benefit for core ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] symptoms was modest, with mixed findings across raters, the low rate of adverse effects and the benefits reported across multiple areas of functioning indicate micronutrients may be a favourable option for some children, particularly those with both ADHD and emotional dysregulation."

So said the findings reported by Julia Rucklidge and colleagues [1] posting results from their "fully blinded randomized controlled trial" of micronutrients in the context of childhood ADHD. Said study is similar to other research from this authorship group that has been previously covered on this blog (see here). The trial protocol (prospectively registered!) can be seen here and provides further details of the micronutrients in question, study design and various outcome measures employed.

Medication-free children diagnosed with ADHD were assigned to either the micronutrient formulation or placebo for 10 weeks. This was not a study for faint-hearted when it came to pill swallowing as up to 12 capsules a day were required to taken over the course of the study period. Then: "Data were collected from clinicians, parents, participants and teachers across a range of measures assessing ADHD symptoms, general functioning and impairment, mood, aggression and emotional regulation."

Results: well as per the opening sentence to this post, there were some important differences noted across the vitamin-mineral supplement group compared with the placebo arm of the trial. But: "No group differences were identified on clinician, parent and teacher ratings of overall ADHD symptoms." It appeared instead that specific aspects of ADHD presentation and more general issues such as aggression were seemingly affected by the micronutrient supplementation but effects were not necessarily just in universal terms of ADHD.

There are a few other important details to add to this post. First: "no group differences in adverse events and no serious adverse events identified" so taking a vitamin-mineral supplement in the context of paediatric ADHD over 10 weeks is a relatively safe affair we are told. I wouldn't have thought anything different to be honest. Bear also in mind that those diagnosed with ADHD may be at greater risk of vitamin deficiencies according to other research (see here) so there may have been a clinical need here also. Second, vitamin and mineral supplements are pretty widely available for many different age groups so getting hold of them is not likely to be a problem. Looking at the specific formulation used, it appears however that an important class of nutrient(s) are missing: essential fatty acids. I could be wrong, but given the quite large body of peer-reviewed research talking about specific fatty acid supplementation in the context of ADHD (see here) one might have expected to have seen this in the formulation used?

There is apparently more to come from this research initiative so I'll probably be posting a part 3 to complement this and the previous post on this topic. As part of the whole 'nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry' ethos (see here) and bearing in mind the range of adverse outcomes over-represented when it comes to a diagnosis of ADHD (see here for example) I'd like to think that relatively simple and affordable moves to manage [some aspects of some] ADHD involving nutritional tools (see here also) are going to continue to be on the research agenda for some time yet.


[1] Rucklidge JJ. et al. Vitamin-mineral treatment improves aggression and emotional regulation in children with ADHD: a fully blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 2.


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