ADHD medication: 3 ways to boost appetite

ADHD medication

ADHD medication: 3 ways to boost appetite

ADHD medication

The affect of ADHD medication methylphenidate (Ritalin / Concerta) to reduce appetite and induce weight loss in children, at least in the short term is well known.  The other common drug lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) will also suppress appetite.

If your child is a normal or above average size, this might not be a concern.

However for a lot of child who already have small appetites and teeter at the bottom of the growth chart, this side affect can actually make this drug quite risky.

So how can you support growth and feeding in your medicated child?


A 2018 study looked at the effect of folic acid on the appetite of children who take ADHD medication, specifically methylphenidate. 

Folic acid is the synthetic form of Vitamin B9 that is often used in research.  But from a holistic perspective, it isn’t the best type.  Many children with neurodevelopmental concerns will have sub-optimal methylation, which means folic acid isn’t ideal for them.  It is better to either get the folate from food (green leafy veggies for instance) or take a more active form of B9.  Given that we are talking about children with small appetites, our chances of bumping up their green veggies consumption is probably quite low.  Working with a qualified natural health practitioner to identify the best form of B9 for your child is wise.

The study looked at 6-12 year olds and found that folic acid supplementation was able to significantly improve the appetite of the medicated children.  The dose of folic acid was 5mg.  To put this into context, a vitamin gummy will have 100 micrograms of folic acid.  So your child would need 50 gummies to get that dose (don’t give them 50 gummies!!!).


Nigella sativa is a herb that has potential appetite stimulation properties.  Its also good for many other things like your lungs, your gut and your immune system.  There is also some data to say it can suppress appetite, so I would save try it and see!  It is also called black seed and it’s readily available in health food shops.


Again, ginger is good for so many things, so it’s a good one to try,  I will often give children with small appetites some ginger drops to have before meals to give their digestion and therefore appetite a little kick start.  But you can also make a tea, or just grate some fresh ginger into a little water.

ADHD medication & Zinc

Zinc makes you think.  A lot of children with ADHD will benefit from taking a zinc supplement. There is even a synergistic affect between ADHD medication and zinc.  Zinc, especially zinc sulphate has a positive impact on ADHD symptoms and is also great for stimulating appetite.  But as with the folic acid, dose and form is everything.  And you would have to take about 50 gummies to get enough zinc to have an affect on either ADHD or appetite.

The bottom line is that if your child needs ADHD medication and their weight is faltering, consider making an appointment to devise an optimal supplementation strategy to maintain their appetite.

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