This article is for informational purposes only. None of the information here should be taken as medical advice. If you suspect you may have an attention disorder, seek medical help. You may try the complementary approaches listed below if you and your doctor determine that they could be appropriate for you. Discuss the strategies listed here with your doctor.
Avoid Junk Food
Studies have associated poor attention and worse ADHD symptoms with diets rich in refined sugar, fried foods, and salt [1, 2].
Avoid Food Additives
Artificial food colorings and sodium-benzoate (preservative) may worsen hyperactivity in children [3, 4]. Their effects on attention in particular haven’t been studied.
ADHD patients have lower intakes and blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (EPA and DHA) [5, 6]. For this reason, some health experts suggest increasing fish and seafood intake as a complementary approach to attention disorders .
Fish oil supplementation has shown promising results for ADHD, but it’s unsure whether eating fish would provide similar benefits [7, 8, 9].
Children and adolescents with ADHD have lower intakes and blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids [5, 6].
Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3s; it improved symptoms in one clinical trial .
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can improve ADHD symptoms in adults and adolescents, especially combined with medication [11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17].
Different forms of behavioral therapy are a part of standard ADHD care — consult with a healthcare professional about your options.
According to decent clinical evidence, regular exercise may reduce ADHD symptoms [18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24].
Children and adolescents on different exercise programs saw improvements in attention, behavior, and cognition [20, 21, 22].
Different nerve stimulation techniques (TENS, TNS) may moderately improve symptoms such as inattention and hyperactivity [25, 26].
The FDA has approved a nerve stimulation device for ADHD treatment in children .
Mindfulness-based therapies improved ADHD symptoms in multiple studies, mostly in adults [28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35].
For children, the therapy may be more effective when applied to both them and their parents [36, 37, 38].
In different small studies of children with ADHD, neurofeedback increased the activity of brain regions involved in attention and impulse control [39, 40, 41, 42].
Neurofeedback might be as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy or drug treatment for ADHD, but larger clinical trials would need to confirm this [43, 44, 45, 46].
Poor sleep quality impairs attention and other cognitive functions [47, 48, 49, 50].
Different sleep interventions improved cognitive performance and overall well-being in children with ADHD [51, 52, 53, 54].
In four clinical studies, yoga reduced hyperactivity and inattention in children with ADHD [55, 56, 57, 58].
White noise improved memory, attention, and language skills in four studies of ADHD patients [59, 60, 61, 62].
According to limited clinical evidence, massage may enhance focus, behavior, and mood control in children and adolescents with ADHD [63, 64].
Having a Pet/Animal-Assisted Therapy
Psychological therapies with horses or dogs improved symptoms in three studies [65, 66, 67].
Having a pet may provide similar benefits, but studies haven’t confirmed this yet.
Spending Time in Nature
Activities in nature, such as a walk in a park, may enhance attention in children with ADHD .
Parents of children with ADHD reported symptom improvement after outdoor activities [69, 70].
Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil (EPA and DHA) improved ADHD symptoms in multiple clinical studies [7, 8, 9, 71, 72].
Children receiving omega-3 supplements had their attention, behavior, and cognition improved [7, 8, 9, 71, 72].
Bacopa may enhance cognitive function, attention, and reaction time .
According to one review, bacopa improves language skills, hyperactivity, and attention deficit in children and adolescents .
A couple of studies have associated ADHD with zinc deficiency [75, 76].
Zinc supplementation may improve hyperactivity and behavior in zinc-deficient ADHD patients [77, 78].
The potential benefits of zinc for attention lack stronger evidence [77, 79].
ADHD patients tend to have lower magnesium levels .
Magnesium supplementation, alone or in combination with vitamin B6, improved symptoms in two clinical trials [81, 82].
The benefits of supplementation may be limited to magnesium-deficient patients [81, 82].
Preliminary research has shown the potential of korean ginseng to reduce inattention and hyperactivity in ADHD patients [83, 84, 85].
Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol)
Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) might enhance attention and cognitive functions in children with ADHD [86, 87, 88].
A clinical trial in adults with ADHD failed to confirm the effectiveness of pycnogenol .
ADHD patients are often vitamin D-deficient .
Vitamin D supplementation may enhance attention in children with ADHD and increase the effectiveness of drug treatment [90, 91].
Some studies have associated iron deficiency with ADHD .
According to limited clinical evidence, iron supplementation may partly improve symptoms in iron-deficient children [92, 93].
Ginkgo biloba was moderately effective for ADHD symptoms in three smaller trials. It may not benefit attention in particular [94, 95, 96].
Phosphatidylserine, alone or in combination with omega-3s, enhanced attention, mood, and behavior in two studies of children with ADHD [97, 71].
A traditional Chinese herbal remedy, Ningdong, was as effective as standard drug treatment for ADHD in one clinical trial; it also caused fewer side effects .
A review of 15 clinical trials concluded that L-tyrosine may boost attention and cognitive performance in stressful and demanding situations .