Pharmaceutical Medicine

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 289–294 | Cite as

A Possible Biological Mechanism for the B Vitamins Altering Behaviour in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Ian ShawEmail author
  • Julia J. Rucklidge
  • Robert N. Hughes
Leading Article


There is a growing body of recent evidence showing that micronutrients (combinations of minerals, vitamins and amino acids) improve the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dopamine agonists, such as methylphenidate, have long been identified as effective in treating ADHD symptoms, by inhibiting dopamine transporter (DAT) function. This article explores the role that B vitamins might have in the treatment of ADHD symptoms by investigating the structural similarities between B vitamins and methylphenidate. We suggest that the presence of B vitamins and their postulated structure activity relationships (SARs) with dopamine may be responsible for the observed pharmacological effect. This pharmacological activity is likely to be via their competitive binding to the DAT dopamine binding site with a concomitant increase in synaptic dopamine concentration, which in turn might activate the postsynaptic dopamine D2 receptor and thus ameliorate the symptoms ofADHD.Further research is required to assess the validity of the intriguing possibility that B vitamins and methylphenidate share a common neurochemical mechanism of action.


Dopamine Methylphenidate ADHD Symptom Pemoline Dextroamphetamine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Lisa Graham for her expert help with the Shroedinger 2008 molecular modelling software.

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests and no sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Shaw
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julia J. Rucklidge
    • 2
  • Robert N. Hughes
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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