According to Australian research studies from 2013-14, “ADHD was the most common disorder for children (8.2%), and the most common among boys (11%). Anxiety disorders were the second most common disorders among all children (6.9%), and the most common among girls (6.1%).”
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a developmental problem which results in poor concentration and control of impulses. It can affect children’s learning and social skills, and also family functioning. Common signs and symptoms are:
Inattention Difficulty concentrating, forgetting instructions, moving from one task to another without completing anything.
Impulsivity Talking over the top of others, losing control of emotions easily, being accident prone.
Overactivity Constant fidgeting and restlessness.
SPECIAL NOTE: It is important to remember that all young children have a limited attention span and sometimes do things without thinking. The group of ADHD symptoms can often be misinterpreted and misdiagnosed.
Could it be that excessive restlessness, hyperactivity and lack of concentration in a child are symptoms of magnesium deficiency?
Before you reach for drugs like Ritalin, which can have deleterious long term side effects, consider extra magnesium first and note the difference.
Magnesium is essential for children’s proper growth and development of bones, brain development, energy supply, immune system support and general wellness. Our modern society is unfortunately burdened with processed fast foods and industrial farming methods which deplete soils of valuable minerals. These crops and animals grown using such industrial farming methods can also contain chemical residues like glyphosate and fluoride, which bind and inhibit magnesium in the body.
The effects of fluoride exposure from chronic consumption of fluoridated drinking water (or foods and beverages made with fluoridated water) have also been established in a 2015 study where they found, “State prevalence of artificial water fluoridation in 1992 significantly positively predicted state prevalence of ADHD in 2003, 2007 and 2011, even after controlling for socioeconomic status.” 1
We are often short-changed these days in quality nutrition – particularly magnesium. We generally can’t afford to have our magnesium reserves compromised, and fluoride is known to bind and block magnesium in the body. To avoid the fluoride in the tap water you can get a good fluoride filter, or drink rain water or bottled mineral water.
If a woman is magnesium deficient during pregnancy, it is likely that her newborn may also suffer from magnesium deficiency, which can look like colic, restlessness and difficulty to settle and sleep well. This extra stress causes even more loss of magnesium, and so creates a downward spiral of bad to worse.
Magnesium deficiency during childhood mimics symptoms of ADHD
According to a 1997 study, “The conclusion from the investigations is that magnesium deficiency in children with ADHD occurs more frequently than in healthy children. Analysis of the material indicated the correlation between levels of magnesium and the quotient of development to freedom from distractibility.” 2
A recent meta-analysis from 2019 found, “The evidence from this meta-analysis supports the theory that an inverse relationship between serum magnesium deficiency and ADHD exists.” 3
A 2020 study concluded, “Magnesium levels were considered as significant predictors of neurodevelopmental disorder complexity.” 4
Sugar sensitivity and the adrenalin rush
If children are sugar sensitive they can become hyperactive with only small amounts of sugar. That gives you another clue as to possible magnesium deficiency because as magnesium becomes more deficient in the body, sugar sensitivity increases. In contrast, as magnesium stores go higher, it dampens down the sugar sensitivity and hyperactivity. This relationship has a see-saw effect.
In this case the body is forced to dissipate simple carbohydrate energy as soon as it enters the system in an uncontrolled and chaotic manner. Just a few jelly beans can send that child into a manic tirade swinging from the chandeliers, or an uncontrollable temper tantrum of screaming, anxiety and a beetroot red complexion. Finally, when all the energy is expired, they collapse in a heap, exhausted. Ever noticed what happens after kids gorge on cupcakes, candies and ice cream at birthday parties?
It takes 28 magnesium molecules to metabolise one molecule of sucrose. Sugar metabolism strips the body of magnesium resources, leaving it starving for the most important mineral needed by the electrical system. The whole nervous system relies on magnesium for energy production, enzyme activity, and nerve conduction.
Magnesium – the calming mineral
Neurological function relies on magnesium which helps the GABA receptors re-calm the body after stress, and to dampen down adrenalin. Magnesium deficiency means muscles can become twitchy, cramped or have restless involuntary movements. It causes more adrenalin to be released in flight or flight sympathetic mode, making it difficult to relax. In addition to involuntary muscle movements and sleep disorders, lack of magnesium can also severely affect heart rhythm, blood circulation and brain function.
Magnesium dampens down adrenalin by affecting the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors, which helps the body move back into parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). “One of the main neurological functions of magnesium is due to magnesium’s interaction with the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. Magnesium serves as a blockade to the calcium channel in the NMDA receptor.” 5
Easy ways to supplement with magnesium – naturally
- Correct the diet by avoiding processed foods and sugars, eating more vegetables and magnesium-rich foods, fermented foods, and drinking more mineral water. Note that you can also recharge your filtered drinking water with electrolytes using magnesium chloride, which mimics natural spring water, makes the water more hydrating, and tastes great;
- Bathing or footsoaking with magnesium chloride flakes allows the body to soak up the needed magnesium transdermally (via skin) in a controlled way, and it avoids any issues with oral magnesium supplements like bowel irritation and diarrhea. It also helps to promote better sleep and is hydrating and soothing for sensitive skin.
- Magnesium Cream massage not only helps with natural skin care, but is very effective at relaxing muscles, improving blood circulation and calming down the nervous system. Children respond very well to a magnesium back rub, or massage on feet and legs. In cases of anxiety, focus on the upper body area including chest, neck and shoulders. Elektra Magnesium Creams are made with all natural and organic plant ingredients infused with 15% magnesium chloride salts, so they are gentle and also an excellent skin care product.
(1) Malin, A. J.; Till, C. Exposure to Fluoridated Water and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Prevalence among Children and Adolescents in the United States: An Ecological Association. Environ Health 2015, 14, 17. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-015-0003-1.
(2) Kozielec, T.; Starobrat-Hermelin, B. Assessment of Magnesium Levels in Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 1997, 10.
(3) Effatpanah, M.; Rezaei, M.; Effatpanah, H.; Effatpanah, Z.; Varkaneh, H. K.; Mousavi, S. M.; Fatahi, S.; Rinaldi, G.; Hashemi, R. Magnesium Status and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Meta-Analysis. Psychiatry Res 2019, 274, 228–234. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2019.02.043.
(4) Skalny, A.; Mazaletskaya, A.; Ajsuvakova, O.; Bjorklund, G.; Skalnaya, M.; Chernova, L.; Skalny, A.; Tinkov, A. Magnesium Status in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of the Korean Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2020, 31, 41–45. https://doi.org/10.5765/jkacap.190036.
(5) Kirkland, A. E.; Sarlo, G. L.; Holton, K. F. The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders. Nutrients 2018, 10 (6), 730. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10060730.