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Studies have revealed that anywhere between 72% and 95% of people with ADHD suffer from magnesium deficiency.

ADHD and Magnesium

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a complex condition that does not always respond to medication. Furthermore, many of the most frequently prescribed ADHD medications cause a variety of unpleasant side effects. This has led many patients and their families to seek out alternative methods of controlling the symptoms of ADHD, including dietary supplementation.

One supplement that is gaining attention as a potential treatment for ADHD is magnesium. In this article, we explore the role of magnesium in the body and how it can help to relieve the symptoms of ADHD.

Is Magnesium Good for ADHD?

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that magnesium is beneficial for ADHD. This is primarily due to the fact that many ADHD patients appear to have lower-than-average levels of magnesium in their blood.

Studies have revealed that up to 95% of people with ADHD suffer from magnesium deficiency. This is thought to increase the severity of symptoms, such as:

  • Restlessness.
  • Lack of focus.
  • Irritability.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Muscle weakness.

The link between magnesium deficiency and ADHD means that increasing your dietary intake of magnesium or taking a supplement could help.

Magnesium has been found to decrease symptoms, such as hyperactivity, while improving overall cognitive function. It may also be helpful for symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, which are frequently experienced alongside ADHD.

ADHD and Magnesium: More Research

The current research suggests that magnesium could be an effective treatment for ADHD in magnesium-deficient individuals. One 1997 study of 50 children with ADHD found that those who took a magnesium supplement for six months had greater reductions in hyperactivity than those who did not.

These results are supported by a 2019 meta-analysis of ADHD and magnesium research, although a 2013 systematic review suggests that more research is needed to confirm the link between magnesium deficiency and ADHD. This latter review also notes that stimulant ADHD medications can interfere with magnesium levels in the body, which may influence research results.

What Does Magnesium Do?

Magnesium has a number of important functions within the body. It is involved in over 300 different biochemical reactions, and has numerous benefits including the following:

  • Supporting immunity.
  • Regulating nerve and muscle function.
  • Regulating the heart beat.
  • Regulating blood sugar levels.
  • Maintaining bone health.
  • Aiding energy and protein synthesis.

Magnesium also plays a crucial role in the production and functioning of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). All of these biochemicals are believed to be involved in the mechanism of ADHD.

Glutamate and GABA may be of special significance. Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter, meaning that it increases activity in the central nervous system. GABA, on the other hand, is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter and induces calming effects.

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How Much Magnesium Should ADHD Patients Take?

The recommended daily requirements depend on a number of factors including age and sex. Generally speaking, the recommended daily dose of magnesium is as follows:

  • Infants under 6 months old: 30 milligrams.
  • Infants aged 6 to 12 months: 75 milligrams.
  • Infants aged 1 to 3 years: 80 milligrams.
  • Children aged 4 to 8 years: 130 milligrams.
  • Children aged 9 to 13 years: 240 milligrams.
  • Females aged 14 to 18 years: 360 milligrams.
  • Males aged 14 to 18 years: 410 milligrams.
  • Adult females: 310 to 320 milligrams.
  • Adult males: 400 to 420 milligrams.
  • Pregnant women: 350 to 400 milligrams.
  • Breastfeeding women: 310 to 360 milligrams.

However, people with ADHD may require a higher-than-average dose of magnesium. For example, in the clinical trial mentioned above, a daily dose of approximately 200 milligram was given to children aged 7 to 12 years.

Although magnesium is a dietary supplement, it can cause side effects when taken in excess. The effects of magnesium overdose include:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.
  • Abdominal pain.

It is advisable that you consult your physician before starting magnesium supplementation to discuss the most appropriate dose for you.

Other Considerations

The safest way to increase your magnesium intake is by making some simple changes to your everyday diet. Try to consume more foods that are high in magnesium, such as:

  • Vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens).
  • Fruit (especially bananas, avocados and dried apricots).
  • Nuts and seeds (especially almonds and cashews).
  • Legumes (beans, peas, etc.).
  • Whole grains (brown rice, millet, etc.).
  • Milk.

If you suffer from ADHD and have trouble keeping regular mealtimes, or if you have a child who simply refuses to eat certain foods, a magnesium supplement could help.

Magnesium supplements are available in many different forms including tablets, syrups and powders. There are also a variety of magnesium salts, such as magnesium citrate, magnesium oxide and magnesium chloride.

It is important that you consult a physician or other qualified health care professional prior to taking magnesium or any other nutritional supplement. They will help you choose the most appropriate product for you and ensure you receive a dose that is both safe and effective.