Hi, Dr. Connie here.
Last week, I talked about the importance of reversing trace mineral imbalances of copper and zinc to reduce behavioral symptoms and limiting the use of mind altering medications, considering them only as a last resort solution.
Today, I want to talk about another nutrient that should be considered by all healthcare providers, parents, and those struggling with ADHD: magnesium.
Magnesium is a macromineral required for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle/nerve function, blood glucose control, bone development, DNA synthesis, and glutathione synthesis.
Glutathione is a super antioxidant in our bodies.
Magnesium and Brain Health
The bioavailability of magnesium affects the function and binding of neurotransmitters to their receptors. These neurotransmitters include serotonin and dopamine, also known as our “feel good” hormones.
For example, magnesium improves the transmission signals of neurons by serotonin receptors, and it also keeps the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate, within optimal limits by inhibiting certain receptors.
Magnesium supports your “calmness” by supporting GABA and its interaction with its receptors.
Magnesium Deficiency is a Modern Day Problem
Over the last century, magnesium levels have been decreasing in our food supply due to processing of foods, modern fertilizers, and soil depletion.
Refining grains removes up to 80% of the magnesium, and consuming refined foods, such as soft drinks and caffeine, also depletes magnesium.
Approximately 50% of Americans of all ages have an inadequate intake of magnesium. (1)
Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency include irritability, difficulty with concentration, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
An astounding 95% of children with ADHD are deficient in magnesium. In fact, ALL children can benefit from magnesium supplementation. (2)
Among children ages 6-16, researchers found that 72% had magnesium deficiency, and they noted a high correlation between hair magnesium, total IQ, and hyperactivity.
A study involving children who were deficient in magnesium were given 200 mg magnesium supplementation plus standard medical treatment. It was found that those taking magnesium experienced significant improvement in hyperactivity, impulsivity, and conceptual levels compared to those who took medications alone. (3)
Magnesium Supplementation Improves ADHD Symptoms
Evidence indicates magnesium taken with vitamin B6, which increases magnesium absorption, improves physical aggression, instability, attention at school, muscle rigidity, spasms, and twitching.
Researchers concluded that chronic magnesium deficiency is associated with hyperactivity, irritability, sleep disturbances, and poor attention at school.
Various studies evaluated children with ADHD who supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6, and resulted in improved anxiety, attention, and hyperactivity.
Magnesium improved attention, work productivity, task performance, and decreased careless errors.
More objective findings with EEG’s proved positive benefits by demonstrating the normalization of brain waves with magnesium-B6 supplementation. (4)
So what can you eat to raise your levels of magnesium?
Encourage your ADHD kids to eat bananas, avocados, beans, and green leafy vegetables.
A population based cohort of over 600 kids who had yearly follow ups from ages 14-17, found that higher dietary intake of magnesium was significantly associated with reduced attention issues, delinquent behavior, and aggressiveness. (5)
Most of all, it’s important to mention that the body only absorbs 30-40% of dietary magnesium, so supplementation is the most reliable way to increase magnesium levels in children and adults with ADHD.
Measuring Magnesium Levels
It’s often difficult to assess magnesium levels because magnesium is stored mostly inside cells and bones. Therefore, serum levels are not a good reflection of magnesium status.
Tests are usually inaccurate and often unnecessary because most patients with ADHD have a magnesium deficiency and can benefit from supplementation.
When it comes to magnesium, clinical symptoms such as constipation, anxiety, insomnia, and irritability are often a better assessment of deficiencies compared to lab testing.
Types of Magnesium Supplements
There’s several forms of magnesium supplementation: magnesium glycinate, magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, and magnesium gluconate.
I recommend magnesium glycinate for supplementation and magnesium citrate for constipation.
Remember, it’s important to get sufficient magnesium to effectively support our neurotransmitter systems.
Studies consistently show that ADHD children who are nutrient deficient overall suffer from more severe symptoms. Consequently, this is a problem because kids who have ADHD tend to be picky eaters.
It’s a good idea to supplement your child with a broad multivitamin/mineral to ensure they are getting all that they need for optimal growth and development.
As mentioned in the prior blog, reversing copper/zinc imbalances and addressing magnesium deficiency can yield significant reductions in ADHD symptoms and improve cognitive performance.
In addition, incorporating nutrition is key to managing and preventing ADHD, along with other neurological issues associated with the brain.
If you need quality supplements, a consultation, and/or have further questions, please contact us today.
If you or anyone you know has ADHD or suspects that they do, please share this blog.
As always, thanks for joining me. Please subscribe, like, and share our post.
See you next week.
- Moshfegh A, Goldman J, Ahuja J, Rhodes D, LaComb R. (2009). What We Eat in America, NHANES 2005–2006: Usual Nutrient Intakes from Food and Water Compared to 1997 Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D, Calcium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: Washington, DC, USA.
- Kozielec & Starobrat-Hermelin. (1997). Assessment of magnesium levels in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Magnesium Research: Official Organ Of The International Society For The Development Of Research On Magnesium, 10(2), 143-148.
- El Baza et al. (2016). Magnesium supplementation in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, 17(1), 63-70
- Nogovitsina & Levitina. (2007). Neurological aspects of the clinical features, pathophysiology, and corrections of impairments in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Neuroscience and Behavioral Physiology, 37(3), 199-202.
- Black et al. (2015). Low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased externalising behaviours in adolescents. Public Health Nutrition, 18(10), 1824-30.