Many people – especially women – struggle with magnesium deficiency. In addition, more and more is known about the possible benefits of magnesium supplementation for ADHD. Magnesium is an underappreciated nutrient for brain health. If we suffer from magnesium deficiency, symptoms of ADHD, autism or high sensitivity might worsen. Therefore, taking a magnesium supplement can help reduce symptoms such as hyperactivity, concentration problems and impulsivity. In this article, you will find information about ADHD and magnesium. We also share information about different types of magnesium, backed up by science. Because not every magnesium supplement is easily absorbed by our body.
Why do we need magnesium?
Magnesium is an important mineral that we easily get deficient in. But our body and brain need enough magnesium to function optimally. Magnesium regulates neurotransmitters, muscle contraction and relaxation. Also, this mineral influences, among other things, mental functions, (heart) muscle function and blood pressure. Magnesium is very helpful during stressful periods (Ortho Health Foundation). Athletes need a lot of magnesium, but magnesium is not only important for our muscles. Our brain also needs magnesium. Therefore, someone who has a magnesium deficiency may develop symptoms that look like ADHD. If you struggle with ADHD, symptoms might worsen if you're magnesium deficient.
The consequences of a magnesium deficiency
Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include:
- Decrease in cognitive ability
- Difficulty with information processing
- Attention deficit
- Increased aggression, anger
- mood swings
- Sleep problems
- Lack of concentration
- High blood pressure
- muscle weakness
- Decreased appetite
Many of these symptoms also occur in children and adults with ADHD. Therefore, if you have ADHD or if your child has ADHD, it can be valuable to take a look at your magnesium level. A blood test is the most common way to find out if you are magnesium deficient.
Research on magnesium and ADHD
More and more studies – you will find the references at the bottom of this article – show that adults and children with ADHD often have less magnesium in their bodies than people without Attention Deficit Disorder. Children and adults with ADHD often have a huge magnesium deficiency, research shows.
What causes magnesium deficiency?
Magnesium deficiency is caused by overstimulation, fear, stress and incorrect nutrition. But also the use of medication such as contraception, antibiotics and blood pressure regulating drugs can cause a magnesium deficiency. As early as 1997, research was conducted on magnesium levels in children who showed hyperactivity in their behavior. Not less than 95% of this group had a significant magnesium deficiency. Unfortunately, little attention is paid to this knowledge in the mainstream treatment of ADHD.
Magnesium is indispensable for people with ADHD
A magnesium supplement can have a huge positive effect on children and adults with ADHD. Magnesium improves cognition, information processing, attention, mood and concentration. In addition, a magnesium supplement (or magnesium oil) can improve our sleep. When we sleep well, it has a reducing effect on other ADHD symptoms, such as concentration problems.
We can get magnesium from our diet, but it is difficult to get enough magnesium from food, especially if we already have a deficiency. A magnesium supplement – in addition to a healthy diet – can offer a (temporary) solution. It's important to choose a good quality supplement (more on this later), and the right type.
Getting magnesium from our diet
We believe the best way to get the recommended amount of magnesium, is by eating a balanced diet full of nutritious foods. Think of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. But it is not easy for everyone to get enough magnesium from food. It can be a real challenge, especially for children. If it is not possible to obtain sufficient magnesium from food, supplementation can offer a solution.
Foods rich in magnesium:
Magnesium is found in vegetables (spinach, chard, lima beans, kale, peas, turnip greens), beans (white and black beans, tofu, edamame, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils), nuts and seeds (hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseed, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds, cashews, almonds, peanuts), grains (oats, quinoa, spelt, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, wild rice, whole wheat pasta) and fruits (figs, prunes, apricots, dates, avocado, raisins, bananas).
Magnesium supplements: which form of magnesium for ADHD?
If you decide to take a magnesium supplement, it is important to keep a few things in mind.
- Stick to the daily recommended dose, too high a daily amount of magnesium causes problems
- Provide an easily absorbable supplement (well absorbable (in order of absorbability) are: magnesium malate, magnesium taurate, magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium citrate, magnesium gluconate, magnesium lactate. Poorly absorbable: magnesium oxide, magnesium chloride, magnesium hydroxide, magnesium sulfate) (Ortho Health Foundation)
- You could check if fillers used, and which ones are used
- Is the supplement suitable for vegetarians and vegans (if that is important to you)?
- It is always best to consult a specialist
Other ways to increase magnesium levels
Instead of taking supplements, we can increase our magnesium levels by:
- Taking a (foot)bath with magnesium flakes
- Applying magnesium oil on our feet
Scientific research on ADHD and magnesium (sources)
Would you like to know more about the possible positive effect of magnesium in adults and children with ADHD? Check out the following studies:
- Magnesium, hyperactivity and autism in children by Marianne Mousain-Bosc, Christian Siatka and Jean-Pierre Bali.
- Research RIVM (2009)
- PubMed: The effects of physiological magnesium supplementation on hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Positive Response to Oral Magnesium Test
Please note: I am not a doctor, nutritionist or specialist. This article is written based on experience and external sources. The information in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any questions, always contact a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. A supplement serves as a supplement and is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.