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.
But 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.
Vitamin C and Adderall
There are many supplements that can help reduce these side Adderall effects, and vitamin C is one of them! From personal experience, I’ve had a lot of success supplementing vitamin C to wind down at night after using Adderall during the day.
Vitamin C is more than simply a micronutrient. In the brain, it’s present in millimolar concentrations around neurons. Vitamin C is transported from plasma to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) across the epithelium of the choroid plexus.
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, caused by lack of access to fruits containing vitamin C like oranges.
The aspect of Vitamin C that’s most relevant to Adderall use is that 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. 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.
Vitamin C and Catecholamine Synthesis (Abstract from Biomedical Literature):
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 [125-127]
Amphetamine tends to be cleared from the body more readily when the bloodstream becomes acidic. On the other hand, Adderall clearance is slowed in a basic environment. Vitamin C to acidify the urine. 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. In 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: melatonin, magnesium, flavonoids (derived from blueberries, for example).
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)
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.