ADHD and Magnesium

Magnesium deficiencyMagnesium deficiency has been reported in children with ADHD syndrome.  Signs of this malady include hyperactivity, hypermotivity with aggressiveness, and lack of attention, especially at school.  Biochemical and concurrent behavioral improvements have been realized by magnesium therapy in association with vitamin B6 supplementation.

An analysis of eighteen different study groups performed by Marianne Moussain-Bosc and her colleagues at a French institute for nervous system studies in 2006 indicated that ,”…B6/magnesium therapy benefits about half of autistic children,” but also noted that a related study showed benefits to those with ADHD, using the same doses of each supplement.  Children ranging from one to ten years of age “…received 0.6 milligrams per kilogram per day of vitamin B6 and 6 milligrams per kilogram per day of magnesium.  Treatment lasted an average of eight months.”  (Moussain-Bosc. 2006)   Both groups of children had significantly lower values of erythrocyte magnesium at the outset than the control group(s).  It was observed that after two months of the vitamin-mineral regimen there was a substantial change in clinical symptoms.

ADD and ADHD are on the upswing, and have been for some time.  Both conditions are hastily treated with drugs, often without a differential diagnosis, which is essentially a process of elimination.  Instead, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders criteria, and a series of observations and teacher questionnaires are employed.  (Pediatrics. 2000. No authors listed.)   Mineral and electrolyte imbalances are awfully hard to discover with that technique, don’t you think? Most parents wince at the thought of dosing their kids with “miracle” substances that have unknown long-term side effects. On the other hand, the clueless, self-centered, entitled faction applauds the quiet, calm, relatively immobile zombie of the house.

Although we live in plentiful times, where food, shelter, and clothing are accessible to all who earn them, there still exist children who are seriously shy of their required magnesium stores.  One reason is stress.  The number of stressors to which kids are exposed grows every year.  From sports practice, to violence in the streets and on television, to academic obligations, to peer pressure and self-image, and more, the kids are overloaded.  It’s the accompanying flood of adrenaline that siphons magnesium, since that hormone needs the mineral for its release.  Another reason is poor nutrition.  You know, processed foods, refined sugars, colorful and flavorful additives, artificial this and that…  This kind of diet is notoriously low in magnesium, which is calming to the nervous system.  The refined sugars and additives actually stress the body, especially the nervous system, as it tries to overcome the onslaught.  A double whammy.

In Poland, researchers studied ADHD children and assessed the value of magnesium supplementation on the DSM parameters, finding that six months of taking as little as 200 mg a day yielded a decrease in symptoms.  (Starobrat-Hermelin. 1997)  Later study performed by Moussain-Bosc saw a decrease in ADHD symptoms using a combined magnesium / B6 regimen in several dozens of children with low red blood cell magnesium stores.  (Moussain-Bosc. 2004)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a developmental perturbation characterized by attention problems and hyperactive behavior.  It’s the most commonly studied psychiatric disorder in children, affecting three to five percent of children worldwide.  Sadly, integrative therapies are spurned by traditional-minded doctors, so parents have taken it upon themselves to intervene, despite the lack of support from their physicians.

Bearing in mind that sugar has a nutrient-diluting effect might make a difference in ADHD management and magnesium stores in the body.  It’s normal to wonder where all the magnesium goes.  Doesn’t it stay still?  After all, it’s part of bone.  That’s true, but magnesium is also an electrolyte, helping to send calming electrical messages across the membrane of each cell, making it a natural calcium channel blocker.  It gets used up in the manufacture of more than three hundred enzymes the body needs, including those that make anti-inflammatory chemicals from fatty acids.  Situations and conditions within the body can push this mineral into the urine and then into the toilet.  Sugar intake, and even that of simple carbohydrates, increases the secretion of insulin by the pancreas.   Increased insulin, as might be found in insulin resistance, pushes magnesium out.  (Huerta. 2005)  The pancreas needs magnesium to make its other secretions, including those that break down proteins (trypsin and chymotripsin) and fats (lipase), as well as carbohydrates.  Carol Ballew and her colleagues found that carbonated beverages, namely soda, are negatively associated with magnesium levels This starts a vicious cycle because low magnesium is related to insulin resistance. (Ballew. 2000).

In tests done in the mid 90’s, it was discovered that elevated insulin levels result in increased magnesium excretion.  These researchers noted this as the explanation to the magnesium deficit that accompanies obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, as well as hyperinsulinemia.  (Djurhuus. 1995)  This same group later reported that high glucose levels, such as would come from a sugary breakfast or a plethora of sweet goodies, raise magnesium excretion by a factor greater than 2.0.  (Djurhuus. 2000)

The foods that once supplied dietary magnesium have become compromised by careless farming, harvesting, processing, storage, and handling practices.  We now get more calcium and less magnesium than ever in the history of mankind.  Sugar erases magnesium from the body’s slate. (Fuchs. 2002) (Tjaderhane. 1998) (Milne. 2000)  It’s time to put it back.  At 6.0 mg / kg / day, that equates to about 3.0 milligrams per pound of body weight…for all of us.

References

  • AUTISM RESEARCH REVIEW INTERNATIONAL Vol. 20, No.3, 2006
    Studies confirm benefits of vitamin B6/magnesium therapy for autism, PDD, and ADHD
    No Authors Cited

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

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  • Pediatrics. 2000 May;105(5):1158-70
    Did not perform differentiated diagnosis
    Clinical practice guideline: diagnosis and evaluation of the child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. American Academy of Pediatrics.
    No authors listed

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  • Magnes Res. 2006 Mar;19(1):53-62.
    Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. II. Pervasive developmental disorder-autism.
    Mousain-Bosc M, Roche M, Polge A, Pradal-Prat D, Rapin J, Bali JP.

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

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  • J Clin Invest. 1970 July; 49(7): 1458–1465.
    A comparison of the effects of glucose ingestion and NH4Cl acidosis on urinary calcium
    and magnesium excretion in man

    Edward J. Lennon and Walter F. Piering

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  • J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1986 Dec;14(4):565-77.
    Behavioral effects of sucrose on preschool children.
    Goldman JA, Lerman RH, Contois JH, Udall JN Jr.

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  • Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000;154:1148-1152
    Beverage Choices Affect Adequacy of Children’s Nutrient Intakes
    Carol Ballew, PhD; Sarah Kuester, MS, RD; Cathleen Gillespie

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  • Diabetes Care. 2005 May;28(5):1175-81.
    Magnesium deficiency is associated with insulin resistance in obese children.
    Huerta MG, Roemmich JN, Kington ML, Bovbjerg VE, Weltman AL, Holmes VF, Patrie JT, Rogol AD, Nadler JL.
    SourceUniversity of Virginia, Department of Pediatrics, Box 800386, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA. [email protected]

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  • Diabetic Medicine.  Volume 12, Issue 8, pages 664–669, August 1995
    Insulin Increases Renal Magnesium Excretion: A Possible Cause of Magnesium
    Depletion in Hyperinsulinaemic States

    Dr. M.S. Djurhuus, P. Skøtt, O. Hother-Nielsen, N.A.H. Klitgaard, H. Beck-Nielsen

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  • Scan Jou of Clin & Laboratory Investigation. 2000, Vol. 60, No. 5 , Pages 403-410
    Hyperglycaemia enhances renal magnesium excretion in Type 1 diabetic patients
    S. Djurhuus

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  • J. Nutr. October 1, 1998 vol. 128 no. 10 1807-1810
    A High Sucrose Diet Decreases the Mechanical Strength of Bones in Growing Rats
    Leo Tjäderhane, and Markku Larmas
    Institute of Dentistry, University of Oulu, 90220 Oulu, Finland

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  • J Am Coll Nutr February 2000 vol. 19 no. 1 31-37
    The Interaction Between Dietary Fructose and Magnesium Adversely Affects
    Macromineral Homeostasis in Men

    David B. Milne, PhD and Forrest H. Nielsen, PhD

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