Adderall and Vitamin C: They Go Great Together

This article gets a little technical. Here's the gist:
  • Adderall can be hard on the brain, but Vitamin C may offset its detrimental effects.
  • Vitamin C may help replenish dopamine stores that are depleted by Adderall
  • Vitamin C is generally neuroprotective
  • Vitamin C may acidify the urine which promotes the clearance of Adderall. This means that taking Vitamin C at night might help hasten Adderall clearance and allow you to sleep.

Adderall is such a popular treatment for ADHD because it works well. Psychostimulants like Adderall or Ritalin tend to be modestly more effective than non-stimulant options like Strattera for managing inattention.

Although efficacious, Adderall can have some undesirable side effects. It's hard on the cardiovascular system and can lead to mood swings, insomnia and other psychiatric symptoms.

Adderall can also have a harsh comedown, depending on the sensitivity of your central nervous system.

Benefits of Combining Vitamin C and Adderall

There are many supplements that can help reduce the adverse effects of amphetamine, and vitamin C is one of them! Others include melatonin, green tea, and cacao.

From personal experience, I've benefited from supplementing vitamin C to wind down at night after using Adderall during the day.

Vitamin C and the Brain

Quick Facts

  • Vitamin C is more than simply a micronutrient. In the brain, it's present in millimolar concentrations around neurons 1.
  • Vitamin C is transported from plasma to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) across the epithelium of the choroid plexus 2.
  • Vitamin C is a blood brain barrier (BBB) permeable antioxidant. It's a cofactor that’s needed for many enzymatic reactions. It's also famously required for the synthesis of collagen.
  • Scurvy is vitamin C deficiency that historically afflicted sailors. It was caused by lack of access to fruits containing vitamin C like oranges.

Replenishing Dopamine Reserves

There is one aspect of Vitamin C that's particularly relevant to Adderall use. Vitamin C is a cofactor needed for the synthesis of catecholamines.

Dopamine and norepinephrine are catecholamines, and both of these neurotransmitters are released in spades by amphetamines. Read my related article about supplements that boost dopamine [here](/dopamine-supplements/).

Vitamin C may help replace depleted catecholamines after Adderall. This works especially well along with L-tyrosine, which is the amino acid precursor to dopamine.

adderall and vitamin c grapefruit

Vitamin C and Catecholamine Synthesis

From Vitamin C Function in the Brain: Vital Role of the Ascorbate Transporter (SVCT2)1:

The non-antioxidant functions of ascorbate in brain and neural-derived tissues center on neurotransmitters. For example, it is well established that ascorbate is essential for catecholamine biosynthesis in neural tissues, serving as a co-factor for dopamine β-hydroxylase in the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine [123,124]. Moreover, an elegant series of studies by several groups documented a novel mechanism involving ascorbate and the AFR to enable transfer electrons across the chromaffin granule membrane

The authors also state:

The behavioral effects of amphetamine were also attenuated either by intraventricular or striatal infusions of ascorbate. The results following ascorbate administration were similar to those of haloperidol (a dopamine receptor antagonist) and larger effects were found when both agents were combined.

Amphetamine tends to be cleared from the body more readily when the bloodstream becomes acidic (low pH).

On the other hand, Adderall clearance is slowed in a basic (high pH) environment.

Vitamin C may acidify the urine, which promotes the clearance of Adderall.

So Vitamin C may help eliminate residual amphetamine in the kidneys, hastening its removal from the body.

This is the reason I’ve used Vitamin C at night to combat Adderall-related insomnia.

Amphetamine and Oxidative Stress

Amphetamine tends to induce oxidative stress in the brain. At high doses, amphetamine can be neurotoxic, but low-dose amphetamine has a solid safety track record. 

Vitamin C, as an antioxidant, may help prevent amphetamine-induced neurotoxicity. Other supplements, nutraceuticals and vitamins that protect the brain in the wake of Adderall include:

There are a few studies supporting the hypothesis that vitamin C may mitigate the effects of amphetamine.

Effect of ascorbic acid on brain amphetamine concentrations in the rat (1987)4

Ascorbic acid is reported to have antiamphetamine effects in rodents. The effect of ascorbic acid (1 g/kg ip) on the half-life of amphetamine (10 mg/kg) in rat brain using 3H-amphetamine and on amphetamine-induced stereotyped behaviour was investigated. Ascorbic acid had no effect on amphetamine-induced stereotyped behaviour or on the half-life of amphetamine in brain. If ascorbic acid antagonizes amphetamine-induced behavioural responses this is unlikely to be a result of altering the pharmacokinetics of amphetamine.

Parting Words

Taking Vitamin C at nighttime is a good way to offset some of the negative effects of amphetamines. The benefits of vitamin C are subtle, but since it won't do any harm at normal doses, I take it myself.

  1. Harrison FE, May JM. Vitamin C function in the brain: vital role of the ascorbate transporter SVCT2. Free radical biology & medicine. 2009; 46(6): 719-30.

  2. Harrison FE, Bowman GL, Polidori MC. Ascorbic acid and the brain: rationale for the use against cognitive decline. Nutrients. 2014; 6(4): 1752-81.

  3. Krasnova IN, Cadet JL. Methamphetamine toxicity and messengers of death. Brain research reviews. 2009; 60(2): 379-407.

  4. Kiely ME, Lal S, Nair NP. Effect of ascorbic acid on brain amphetamine concentrations in the rat. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry. 1987; 11(2-3): 287-90.

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Xavier Kent

I'm interested in nutrition, nootropics, and javascript. I'm a firm believer in getting really good at one thing.


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