Magnesium Deficiency Linked to ADD and ADHD in Children

Thursday, August 06, 2009 by: Elizabeth Walling
Tags: magnesium, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Our children are born into a world where conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are diagnosed at an escalating rate. These conditions are often hastily medicated while parents are given a few vague lifestyle suggestions, with the main advice being to accept the condition and the bottles of pharmaceutical drugs it requires. Many parents and care givers are unsatisfied with this type of solution, and understandably seek out natural treatments for their children. One crucial step in naturally treating ADD and ADHD is to make sure your child is getting enough magnesium.

Compared to past generations, we live in plentiful times where food and shelter are readily available. Yet today's children are more prone to magnesium deficiency than ever before. This happens for two primary reasons:

Stress. The number of stressors in our children's lives is unprecedented and seems to increase with each generation. Think about it: soccer practice, body image, loud music, math exams, peer pressure, disturbing images and events that occur every day - our children are being hit with stress from every possible angle. And children who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD deal with a level of stressors even more difficult to face.

This never ending stress, with its accompanying flood of adrenaline, drains the body of magnesium because this mineral is essential to the release of hormones like adrenaline. Since magnesium is used to calm the nervous system, the more stress children experience, the more magnesium their bodies use.

Poor nutrition. Children's diets today are filled with processed foods, refined sugars and food additives. This type of diet depletes children of magnesium in two ways. First, this diet is extremely low in magnesium to begin with. Secondly, refined sugars and food additives can actually stress the nervous system, causing the body to use up magnesium supplies as it tries to counteract this effect.

Junk sugars and food additives are known to contribute to ADD and hyperactivity because they stimulate the nervous system and cause blood sugar fluctuations. Improving the diet is one of the most effective ways of dealing with ADD and ADHD in children. By replacing junk foods with nutrient-dense alternatives, you can naturally increase your child's magnesium intake in addition to giving all of the important benefits of eating a balanced diet.

How Magnesium Calms Hyperactivity Symptoms

Magnesium relaxes the mind. The body uses magnesium to facilitate sending messages throughout our nervous system. Magnesium is also used to calm the nervous system, which is doubly important in children with hyperactivity disorders. With the right amount of magnesium present in the body, children can think clearer and concentrate better. Magnesium is also a key factor in the production of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that provides a feeling of calm and well-being. Low levels of serotonin are associated with irritability, moodiness and depression.

Magnesium relaxes the body. Magnesium is essential for the relaxation of muscle fibers. Without this essential mineral, spasms and twitches are a common problem. Magnesium helps muscles in the body relax and function properly without disturbances. When the body feels calm, it is easier for hyperactive children to behave calmly.

Of course, there are dozens of other health benefits that come with getting plenty of magnesium, and here are just a few examples:

- Magnesium is essential in regulating blood sugar, which can prevent highs and lows.

- It helps absorb and utilize other important minerals and nutrients.

- It activates enzymes that manage energy production, nutrient absorption, hormone production, and much more.

- It's a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage.

All of these factors can improve the overall health of our children and help manage conditions like ADD and hyperactivity.

Find Foods Rich in Natural Magnesium

The best way to increase your child's magnesium intake is through food. Roughly fifty percent of the magnesium found in food is absorbed and utilized by the body, which is a much higher percentage than magnesium in supplement form. Choose organic foods whenever possible, as organic practices often increase magnesium content in foods. Here is a list of foods naturally rich in magnesium:

- Kelp
- Green vegetables (like broccoli)
- Whole-grain wheat, rice, oats, and rye
- Almonds
- Cashews
- Brazil nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Molasses
- Brewer's yeast
- Buckwheat
- Peanuts
- Pecans
- Tofu

Magnesium Supplements for Children

Although a nutritious diet rich in magnesium is suggested in all cases, most parents of hyperactive children find it helpful to supplement with additional magnesium. The easiest way to give a child magnesium is to use magnesium citrate powder, which can mix easily in pure fruit juice without much influence on the taste.

How much magnesium a child should take varies, but the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium for children is:

Ages 1-3: 80 mg
Ages 4-8: 130 mg
Ages 9-13: 240 mg

The common method is to give a child no more than their RDA in supplement form (magnesium from food does not have to be limited at all). But some experts like Dr. Leo Galland, author of Superimmunity for Kids, say hyperactive children may need as much as 6 mg per pound of body weight per day.

In either case, start at a low dose and increase over a period of days to avoid digestive upsets. Dividing the full amount into 2-4 doses per day is recommended for optimal absorption. Loose stools may be a sign that a child is taking too much magnesium overall, or simply that the amount needs to be divided into smaller doses. If the child is already taking divided doses and still experiences frequent loose stools, then the dosage level should be lowered.

Another way to slightly boost children's magnesium intake is to add a cupful of Epsom salts to their evening bath. This has an incredibly calming, detoxifying effect that is especially beneficial for hyperactive children.

Remember that eliminating magnesium deficiency in children is a multi-step process: work to remove stressors that cause magnesium deficiency, avoid processed junk foods and refined sugars, eat nutritious foods rich in natural minerals, and use supplemental magnesium as needed. Implementing all of these elements can dynamically change your child's physical and mental health, and can be a healing balm for the entire family.

For More Information:

Dean, Carolyn. (2006) The Magnesium Miracle. Published by Ballantine Books.

About the author

Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more:

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