Supplements Like Zinc and Vitamin B12 Can Help Brain and Memory Disorders

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For people with neurodivergence, pharmaceuticals can help manage or reduce symptoms. People with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), for example, may benefit from medication that helps them focus.

Increasingly, scientists are also seeing benefits to nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals (a combo of nutrition and pharmaceutical) are dietary supplements that provide vitamins or minerals. Nutraceuticals might not replace medication, but researchers are finding they can help people with neurodivergence reduce their symptoms.

Can Supplements Help Autism?

People with autism, particularly children, don’t always get the nutrition they need. For some people with autism, this can be due to a preference for a limited diet. But it can also be a result of malabsorption issues or food allergies, says James Adams, a professor at Arizona State University and the director of the Autism/Asperger’s Research Program.

In a 2021 study in the Journal of Personalized Medicine, Adams and his co-authors conducted a survey that rated the perceived benefits of supplements. About 85 percent of the survey respondents were caregivers for someone with autism.   

“It’s well known in the autism community that vitamin, mineral, and other nutritional supplements are usually widely tolerated,” Adams says. 

Folinic Acid

Folinic acid and B12 were highly rated for reducing symptoms without adverse side effects. “Folate is a very important vitamin, and we’ve known about it for about 100 years. Children with autism cannot easily process the artificial form, called folic acid,” Adams says.

In the survey, folinic acid supplements were highly rated as helping with cognition and language or communication abilities. Of people taking high doses (five mg/day or more), 33 percent said they saw improved cognition; 29 percent had better attention, and 24 percent had improved language or communication. For moderate doses (below 5 mg/day), 20 percent experienced improved language or communication. 

Read More: What You Need to Know About Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Turmeric, and Fish Oil/Omega-3

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, along with folinic acid, assists in methylation, a type of activation in cells that allows them to function properly in different parts of the body.

“Every cell has the same DNA, but a kidney cell is different from a brain cell,” Adams says. “Methylation is controlling which parts are on or off. With autism, they need more B12 to help with methylation.”

In the study, 30 percent of participants who received B12 injections said they helped with improved language and communication; 28 percent found they helped with cognition; and 20 percent credited them with increasing attention. Those taking oral vitamin B12 also saw better cognition (25 percent) and language/communication abilities (18 percent). Overall, 27 percent of people taking a vitamin B12 supplement said it improved their health.  

Which Supplements Help ADHD? 

Many people with ADHD have vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Studies, for example, have found that many kids with ADHD are deficient in zinc.

Zinc is a vital mineral that people can’t produce it on their own. It has to be consumed. Zinc boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation, and helps enhance our senses.

For people with ADHD, zinc deficiency might result from poor nutrition or malabsorption, which means the body doesn’t process and use zinc correctly. Studies have found that people with ADHD who took zinc supplements reported being less jittery and having more attention. 

Read More: Taking Zinc and Quercetin Supplements Together Could Strengthen Immune System


People with ADHD often have trouble sleeping. Although melatonin supplements don’t address ADHD symptoms, studies have found they help people with ADHD sleep better.

In studies, people with ADHD who took melatonin supplements had longer sleep times and better quality sleep compared to people who took a placebo.

Studies currently don’t find that melatonin supplements reduce ADHD symptoms, but a good night’s rest can help a person with ADHD better face the day ahead. 


Research on ADHD and iron supplements is relatively new, so scientists have only seen it tested in a small sample size. Experts still consider the research preliminary, but early results suggest that children in a clinical trial who took iron supplements saw a reduction in symptoms compared to the placebo group. 

Which Supplements Help with Memory Loss?

Currently, there is no cure for memory loss diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Researchers, however, have found that ginkgo biloba can help delay memory loss and extend the person’s quality of life.

A 2022 literature review in Antioxidants examined 14 clinical trials involving ginkgo biloba and patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or cancer. The study found that compared to the placebo, people who took ginkgo biloba saw benefits such as better executive function, attention, mood, and non-verbal memory (meaning the ability to remember things that aren’t written or spoken).

People who took ginkgo biloba also saw improvements in their overall health. It helped with inflammation, stress, body mass index, and waist circumference.

The authors concluded that although taking a ginkgo biloba supplement couldn’t reverse aging or cure diseases associated with memory loss, it could offer people a better quality of life for longer periods of time compared to people who didn’t take the supplement. 

Read More: Calcium and Magnesium Don’t Mix, Along With These 6 Other Supplement Combinations

This article is not offering medical advice and should be used for informational purposes only.

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