Natural Nutrition for ADHD Children

ADHD book review


Review copyright  C  2000 Andrew W. Saul and revised July, 2009.

This book has more recently been re-issued as Healing Children's Attention & Behavior Disorders: Complementary Nutritional & Psychological Treatments. Toronto: CCNM Press, 2004.

Dr. Hoffer's ABC of Natural Nutrition for Children
by Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D
Quarry Press, Kingston, Ontario 1999. ISBN 1-55082-185-7
(Softcover, 280 pages plus tables and bibliography)
Reviewed by Andrew W. Saul

A riddle: how many years does it take for a new way of treating behavior disorders in children to be generally accepted? The answer is forty, according to Abram Hoffer, M.D, Ph.D. There are few physicians who have sufficient experience to personally validate such a claim, but Dr. Hoffer can. He pioneered megavitamin research and treatment back in the early 1950's, and, half a century later, has still been largely ignored by the medical profession.  Why? Because Dr. Hoffer treated ADHD kids with vitamins. And, he got results.

Dr. Hoffer's ABC of Natural Nutrition for Children is a concise and powerful book. Pages 18-30 alone contain enough information to set the medical profession on its ear. This section forms the most elegant explanation of orthomolecular (megavitamin) medicine since Linus Pauling's historic 1968 paper in Science. In fact, Hoffer had a 17- year jump on Pauling; vitamin B-3 (niacin, or niacinamide) to treat behavioral disorders was first used by Hoffer and colleague Dr. Humphrey Osmond in 1951. Niacin worked then, and it works now.

I know a 10 year old boy who was having considerable school and behavior problems. Interestingly enough, the child was already on physician-prescribed little bits of niacin, with a total daily dose of less than 150 mg.  Not a bad beginning, since the RDA for kids is under 20 mg/day. But it wasn't enough to be effective, and the boy was slated for the Ritalin-for-lunch bunch. Dr. Hoffer suggested trying him on 500 mg niacinamide three times daily (1,500 mg total).  That's a lot, but niacinamide is a comfortable, flush-free form of vitamin B-3.  So Mom tried it. 

What a difference! 

People often ask, "If this treatment is so good, how come my doctor doesn't know about it?  How come it is not on the news?"  The answer may have more to do with medical politics than with medical science. Consider Hoffer's views on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: "The DSM system (the standard of the American Psychiatric Association) has little or no relevance to diagnosis. It has no relevance to treatment, either, because no matter which terms are used to classify these children, they are all recommended for treatment with drug therapy" combined, sometimes, with other non-megavitamin approaches. "If the entire diagnostic scheme were scrapped today, it would make almost no difference to the way these children were treated, or to the outcome of treatment.  Nor would their patients feel any better or worse." Statements like these do not exactly endear one to the medical community. 

And, as if such statements are not enough, Hoffer then devotes the balance of the book to setting out genuine nutritional alternatives to drug therapy for ADHD children. He provides vitamin dosage details, food tables, and over 150 references.  In addition, 120 case histories are included, along with a "Bad Foods" list,  numerous research summaries, precise recommendations for optimum diet, comparisons of drugs and vitamins, a discussion of allergies and food additives, behavioral self-tests, and, most importantly, a wealth of professional experience.

The best part of Dr. Hoffer's ABC of Natural Nutrition for Children is that it is a book of practical, positive advice. Criticisms and even lawsuits over the hazards of tranquilizers, Ritalin, and related pharmaceuticals are on the rise, but neither court nor controversy can cure your child. "Battered parents" (Hoffer's term) need to know what to do, and now. Saying no to drugs" also requires saying "yes" to something else. That something else is nutrition, properly employed.

For those who say there is insufficient scientific evidence to support megavitamin therapy for children's behavior disorders, I say they haven't been looking hard enough. Hoffer and his colleagues conducted the first double-blind controlled vitamin trials in psychiatric history in 1952. He was among the first to employ vitamin C as an antioxidant, use the B-vitamins against heart disease, and, with Dr. Osmond, was the first to employ niacin to treat behavioral disorders.  Dr. Hoffer has over 500 publications to date. This single book (and he has written nearly 30 others) will present the reader with the most comprehensive and comprehensible review of vitamin therapy for ADHD that I have yet seen. 

The simple way to determine whether vitamins will help your child is to try them. Read Dr. Hoffer's ABC of Natural Nutrition for Children for invaluable guidance from the foremost authority on the subject.


Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

Along with Dr. Hoffer, he is also the author of ORTHOMOLECULAR MEDICINE FOR EVERYONE (2008) and THE VITAMIN CURE FOR ALCOHOLISM (2009)  More about these books is posted at

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Andrew W. Saul


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