Sunday, November 16, 2008

Magnesium Deficiency and Childhood ADHD

Magnesium Levels and the Connection to ADHD
In the last blog post, we talked about how an iodine deficiency in pregnant women can lead to ADHD and other cognitive dysfunctions in children. Iodine is just one of the many key nutrients that have been correlated with a worsening of ADHD-like symptoms. The effects of deficiencies for more well-known minerals such as iron and zinc are widely published. Low levels of both of these minerals have been associated with the onset of ADHD, and will be discussed in later posts. However, a lesser-known but equally important mineral relevant to ADHD and overall brain function is magnesium. There have been multiple studies linking low levels this key nutrient to an increased onset of ADHD.

Signs and Symptoms of Inadequate Magnesium Intake
Magnesium actually shares a functional overlap with iodine as far as proper bodily function is concerned. It plays a crucial role in maintaining function in a number of enzymes and other essential proteins. Additionally, like iodine, magnesium is essential for adequate bone health as well as maintaining adequate body temperature and energy levels. There are a number of signs of magnesium deficiencies which actually mask symptoms of other diseases, but some of the most distinctive signs of low magnesium levels are unexplained ulcers in the mouth area. Additionally, while allergies and asthma occur at higher levels in individuals with ADHD as comorbid disorders, the presence of ADHD, allergies, asthma and fibromyalgia (high levels of constant pain and sensitivity to touch) can be due to inadequate magnesium levels in the body.

Frequency of Magnesium Deficiencies and Recommended Daily Amounts
Like iodine, magnesium deficiencies are relatively common in industrialized countries. In children, these trends are even more ominous, with some estimates placing up to 90% of children in the magnesium deficient category. Recommended amounts typically fall within 280 to 400 mg per day, with men requiring slightly higher amounts than women. Seeds and nuts are among the best sources of this vital nutrient, with one of the best options being pumpkin and squash seeds (1 ounce provides about a third of the recommended daily amount).

**Please keep in mind that the recommended magnesium levels of 280 to 400 mg are for adults and older children. For newborns (around 30 mg/day) to children under 9 (130 mg/day), the requirements are lower. While there are no "food-based" upper limits for magnesium, there are for supplements. This is due to in part to different absorption patterns of the different magnesium forms in supplements as opposed to foods. Please click here to see some tables for recommended and upper limits of magnesium for children. Also, keep in mind that certain antacids and laxatives contain high levels of magnesium already, so please follow the upper limit max for supplements.

Treating ADHD with Magnesium Supplementation
Given the relatively low consumption of these foods by individuals in westernized countries, as well as the prevalence of nut allergies, supplementation with magnesium is another good option.
While both of the main components of ADHD (inattention and impulsivity/hyperactivity) are both associated with low levels of magesium, it appears that the hyperactivity factor is even more pronounced. The effectiveness of magnesium treatment is boosted by another key nutrient in the family of B vitamins, namely Vitamin B6. My next blog post will go into more detail about this treatment combination for ADHD.

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Magnesium Deficiency said...

Hello all,

Decreased iron and zinc levels have been related with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The mineral magnesium is less known for its correlation to ADHD but is of the same importance. There have been a number of reports connecting low magnesium levels to the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder. Thanks a lot......

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