January 30, 2007

ADHD – Is your child deficient in magnesium?

Written by Kevin Flatt

Magnesium has been scientifically proved to help in many cases of ADHD as the following research clearly illustrates.

Low levels of magnesium have long been known to cause hyperexcitability with convulsive seizures in rodents, effects that have been reversed by treatment with magnesium. (Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2004 Oct;23(5):545S-548S). Animal studies have suggested that magnesium supplements can increase learning and enhance the behavioral response to stimulants. Therefore the use of magnesium together with amphetamines will likely enhance the effectiveness of these drugs in the treatment of ADD. (Psychiatry research. 1994;54:199–210).

In 1993 Polish researchers measured magnesium levels in 142 girls and 107 boys (ages 5-15) by the colorimetric method and found low levels in 24 children including 7 boys and 17 girls. In 21 of them neurotic reactions or concentration disturbances were observed. (Wiad Lek (POLAND) Feb 1993, 46 (3-4) p120-2).

In 1997 researchers in Poland, reporting in the journal Magnesium Research, investigated 116 children (94 boys and 20 girls), aged 9-12 years, with recognized ADHD. In 48 of the participants disruptive behaviour was also a factor. Measuring blood levels of magnesium is not a reliable indicator of magnesium deficiency as can be seen by these researchers’ following observations. They determined magnesium levels in blood serum, red blood cells and in hair. Magnesium deficiency was determined in hair 77.6 %, in red blood cells 58.6 % and in blood serum only 33.6 %. Overall magnesium deficiency was determined in 95 per cent of these ADHD children. The researchers concluded that magnesium deficiency in children with ADHD occurs more frequently than in healthy children. (Magnesium Research. 1997 Jun;10(2):143-8).

Drs. Bella and Burton Altura have performed laboratory research and clinical research to the tune of about 1,000 studies over the past 40 years and feel that magnesium has not been given its due because there has been no lab test that will give an accurate reading of the magnesium status in the tissues. Only one percent of magnesium of the body is distributed in the blood, making a simple sample of magnesium in the blood highly inaccurate. (Carolyn Dean, MD, ND. lead author on Death by Medicine, and author of The Miracle of Magnesium). This is mainly because the serum magnesium measurements are not adequate for the determination of magnesium deficiency - this requires measurement of magnesium in the cells, platelets or whole blood. The best results, however, are obtained from the cumbersome measurement of magnesium loss in the urine over a 24-hour period. (Dr. Matti Tolonen).

In a study that compared four forms of magnesium preparations, results suggested lower bioavailability of magnesium oxide, with significantly higher and equal absorption and bioavailability of magnesium chloride and magnesium lactate. [30]. (Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health).

Many magnesium supplements are poorly absorbed. Always check the amount of elemental magnesium in a supplement. For example, a chelated magnesium product may indicate 500mg but the elemental (actual) magnesium content may be 100mg. Look for good quality products.

In 1997 researchers reporting in the journal Magnesium Research, divided 75 children (ages 7to12) with diagnosed ADHD into two groups in a preliminary, controlled trial. The children had a deficiency of magnesium which was determined in blood serum, red blood cells and in hair. Fifty children, 20 of whom showed disruptive behaviour, were supplemented with 200 mg per day of magnesium for 6 months in addition to their standard treatment. The other group of 25 children, 10 of whom showed disruptive behaviour, received the standard treatment without magnesium. At the end of the trial, the children whose treatment included magnesium supplements demonstrated a significant improvement in hyperactive behaviour as determined by parent and teacher ratings and other standard testing procedures compared to the children who had not received the supplements. (Magnesium Research. 1997 Jun; 10(2): 149-56).

In 1998 one of the researchers in the study above, reporting in the journal Annales Academiae Medicae Stetinensis (Poland), elaborated on the study, reiterating the decrease of hyperactivity in the group of children treated with magnesium, but adding that in the group of children given standard treatment without magnesium, hyperactivity had actually intensified! The researcher concluded: “…magnesium supplementation together with standard traditional mode of treatment gives us the opportunity to extend the methods of therapy of ADHD children who are the “children of the risk” in connection with their educational, emotional and social problems.” (Ann Acad Med Stetin. 1998;44:297-314. Polish).

In 2004 French researchers, reporting in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, investigated the effects of magnesium and vitamin B6 supplementation on the behaviour of 52 hyper excitable children all under the age of 15 years. Thirty of the hyperactive children were low in magnesium and were subsequently treated with magnesium and vitamin B6. After 6 months of treatment all children had reduced symptoms of hyperexcitability including physical aggression, instability and learning attention. Interestingly, the researchers also tested their family members for low levels of magnesium and similar symptoms. Those that fitted the criteria were also supplemented with magnesium and vitamin B6 and also responded in a positive manner. (Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2004 Oct;23(5):545S-548S).

In 2006 Russian researchers used a combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 to treat children aged from 6 to 12 with ADHD. The children were split into two groups, 31 children were given the magnesium and vitamin B6 combination, while 20 children in the other group received a multivitamin complex. After 30 days the researchers established significant improvements in the magnesium and vitamin B6 group compared to the control group. The main areas of improvement were in behaviour, decreased level of anxiety and aggression and increased attention. (Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2006 Jan-Feb;69(1):74-7).

In 2006 French researchers, reporting in the journal Magnesium Research, supplemented 40 children with clinical symptoms of ADHD with magnesium and vitamin B6 for 8 weeks. In almost all of the children symptoms of hyperactivity, hyperemotivity (excessive emotions) and aggressiveness were significantly reduced after two months. In addition, school attention was also improved. The researchers observed that when the magnesium and vitamin B6 treatment was stopped, clinical symptoms of the disease reappeared in a few weeks. (Magnesium Research. 2006 Mar;19(1):46-52).

These results suggest that magnesium supplementation, or at least high amounts of magnesium in the diet, may prove to be beneficial for children with ADHD.


Bosc M, Roche M, Rapin J, Bali JP. Magnesium VitB6 intake reduces central nervous system hyperexcitability in children. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):545S-548S.

Reviewed in Schmidt ME, Kruesi MJ, Elia J, et al. Effect of dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate on calcium and magnesium concentration in hyperactive boys. Psychiatry Res 1994;54:199–210.

Nizankowska-Blaz T, Korczowski R, Zys K, Rybak A. [Level of magnesium in blood serum in children from the province of Rzesz'ow]. Wiad Lek (POLAND) Feb 1993, 46 (3-4) p120-2.

Kozielec T, Starobrat-Hermelin B. Assessment of magnesium levels in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Magnes Res. 1997 Jun;10(2):143-8.

Magnesium review By Dr Matti Tolonen MD

Starobrat Hermelin, B : Kozielec, T. The effects of magnesium physiological supplementation on hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Positive response to magnesium oral loading test. Magnes-Res. 1997 Jun; 10(2): 149-56.

Starobrat-Hermelin B. [The effect of deficiency of selected bioelements on hyperactivity in children with certain specified mental disorders] Ann Acad Med Stetin. 1998;44:297-314. Polish.

Bosc M, Roche M, Rapin J, Bali JP. Magnesium VitB6 intake reduces central nervous system hyperexcitability in children. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):545S-548S.

Nogovitsina OR, Levitina EV. [Effect of MAGNE-B6 on the clinical and biochemical manifestations of the syndrome of attention deficit and hyperactivity in children][Article in Russian] Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2006 Jan-Feb;69(1):74-7.

Mousain-Bosc M, Roche M, Polge A, Pradal-Prat D, Rapin J, Bali JP. Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. I. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Magnes Res. 2006 Mar;19(1):46-52.

Copyright 2007 KevinFlatt. Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is presented for information purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. It cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment.

Copyright 2007 Kevin Flatt. Reproduction of any information on other websites is PROHIBITED.

Disclaimer: The information and opinions on this website is for information purposes only and is believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. Readers who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.