Energy drinks for ADHD: Friend or foe?


Caffeine can have distinct effects on people with ADHD than on neurotypical people. Common constituents in energy drinks include ginseng, L-theanine, taurine, citric acid, sugar, and food colors, all of which have variable impacts on ADHD symptoms. Caffeinated beverages may be a type of addiction or self-medication for those with ADHD. Tracking caffeine intake, experimenting with decaf or low-caffeine alternatives, gradually reducing consumption, and changing sleep patterns are all good ways to cut back on energy drinks.

How can caffeine influence ADHD symptoms?

Caffeine is a stimulant that, when used correctly, can increase your wakefulness, alertness, and productivity.Many beliefs about caffeine’s effects on ADHD are typically incorrect or overstated, as they are more closely tied to elements other than the neurotype. Caffeine can have a counterintuitive effect on persons with ADHD, making them feel sleepier after taking it. Even though coffee has a soothing impact on some people, there is no definite proof that ADHD brains are more likely to have paradoxical caffeine reactions. ADHD research! A study of US Army soldiers discovered that caffeine improved cognition and impulsive conduct, deeming it a “promising treatment tool.”1. Energy drink chemicals and ADHD.


Most healthy adults can consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day, however many coffee and tea enthusiasts seldom exceed this amount. Others may not realize how quickly things add up. For example, 8 ounces of filter coffee have an average of 145 mg of caffeine, but a can of Monster contains 160 mg. Please be advised! Excessive caffeine consumption can cause headaches, sleeplessness, irritability, a fast heartbeat, and muscular tremors. Caffeine is the primary stimulant in energy drinks, but there are several other substances to be mindful of.


L-theanine, which may be found in tea, supplements, and high amounts in energy drinks, has been linked to numerous health advantages, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics. L-theanine may help persons with ADHD improve their concentration and impulsive behavior.3. Taurine Taurine is an amino acid that your body naturally produces to protect neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that deliver dopamine, which makes you feel good. It can be used as a supplement to treat congestive heart disease, anxiety, seizures, hypertension, and ADHD.Taurine can also improve hyperactive behavior and brain function in rats, implying that large dosages of taurine may alleviate ADHD symptoms. However, lower doses appear to have the opposite impact.4


Korean red ginseng, commonly known as “Panax” ginseng, has been found to have beneficial effects on neurotransmitters and the central nervous system, resulting in improved cognitive function. Korean red ginseng may benefit persons with ADHD by improving inattention, short-term memory issues, and executive function.6

Artificial food coloring.

Consuming artificial food dyes may increase some people’s ADHD symptoms. Unfortunately, energy drinks’ labels only vaguely mention additional colors, although they’re almost certainly present. Sugar and artificial sweeteners. Sugar can aggravate ADHD symptoms and cause hyperactivity. Though the use of artificial sweeteners is still contested, both types of sweeteners may add to habit formation and the overall attraction of energy drinks.

Citric Acid with Vitamin C

Most energy drinks contain citric acid (also known as vitamin C). If you combine your ADHD medication with energy drinks, pay attention! If vitamin C is consumed at the same time as medication, effective absorption may be compromised. It is advised to avoid meals high in vitamin C and citric acid while using ADHD drugs such as Adderall, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse.

Can caffeine help with ADHD?

An out-of-date (but generally quoted) study discovered that caffeine slightly improved brain function.7 Those who quote this study frequently omit to emphasize that the outcomes were insignificant, meaning they weren’t significantly better than the placebo group. When it came to treating ADHD symptoms, researchers concluded that prescription stimulant drugs outperformed caffeine by far. Self-medicating with caffeine Unsurprisingly, many ADHDers use caffeine as a sort of self-medication, whether they realize it or not. This is especially true for people without access to a formal diagnosis or prescription treatment.

But is it helpful?

Surprisingly, yes—to some extent.According to one study, habitual coffee and tea drinkers with ADHD have somewhat higher psychological well-being than non-consumers with ADHD.8 But there is a catch! The findings also point to a link between ADHD symptoms and caffeine use problem (yes, it exists), which is associated with lower psychological well-being.8 This appears to be an instance when balance is essential. Addiction, Caffeine, and ADHD Many ADHDers engage in addictive behaviors in order to experience the dopamine rush and quick gratification that comes with them. The instant perceived’results’ of energy drinks can be difficult to avoid. Caffeine can disguise the effects of alcohol and boost alertness, leading to a 4x increase in binge drinking among both ADHDers and neurotypicals. Like probable interactions with prescription drugs, energy drinks can have a detrimental impact on other ADHD-related symptoms and behaviors.

Cut back on caffeine and energy drinks.

Want to cut back on energy drinks? Here are a few strategies to try. Use the low-dopamine morning routine to boost your energy without relying on tea, coffee, or energy drinks. Consider measuring your caffeine usage to stay under recommended levels. (A simple journal will suffice, but there are also numerous applications for habit monitoring!) Try decaffeinated or low-caffeine versions of your favorite drinks.Cut back gradually to alleviate withdrawal symptoms while your body adjusts. Take measures to improve your sleep quality so you don’t have a “need” for caffeine. Work with an ADHD coach to improve your sleep habits and other behaviors.

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Freya Parker is a Sydney-based SEO Copywriter and Content Creator with a knack for making the complex world of cars easy to understand. Graduating from Melbourne's top universities, Freya kick-started her journey working with Auto Trader, diving into the ins and outs of buying and selling vehicles. She's not just about words; Freya's got the lowdown on how the auto industry ticks, collaborating with We Buy Cars South Africa and various small auto businesses across Australia. What sets her apart is her focus on the environment – she's passionate about uncovering how cars impact our world. With a down-to-earth style, Freya weaves together stories that connect people to the automotive realm, making her a go-to voice in the industry.