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Kids, ADHD, and Magnesium: Everything You Should Know

Natural Calm magnesium for adhd

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Even if your kids are the most adventurous eaters, beans, dark, leafy greens, and fish can often be a hard sell to kids, meaning it’s even more difficult for them to get the magnesium they need, whether or not they have ADHD. 

Studies dating back to the 1920’s show that magnesium plays a significant role in mental health and psychiatric care of all kinds, which is why it comes as no surprise that magnesium is often prescribed to children who struggle with certain symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

Magnesium deficiency leads to trouble concentrating, sleep problems, and muscle twitches even for those without ADHD, so the added factor of having such a condition complicates life in many ways for kids. Because of its little known effects on the brain and nervous system, magnesium is thought to be a multifaceted approach to treating ADHD in children. 

What Does ADHD in Children Look Like?

adhd in children

There are some misconceptions about how ADHD presents itself in children. It’s important to note that ADHD is a condition that must be diagnosed, and not an adjective for an energetic little munchkin! 

An active child ≠ a child with ADHD. 

On average, ADHD will affect about 5% of school-aged children. The primary symptoms are related to difficulty controlling attention, and regulating behaviour and activity levels (impulsivity/hyperactivity). 

ADHD is caused by a unique blend of genetics and environmental conditions. It tends to run in families, so it’s not uncommon for parents of children with ADHD to have some form of the condition themselves. 

Different Symptoms for Different People

adhd symptoms vary in children

Historically, ADHD has been more common in boys, or at least, more readily diagnosed in boys. This is suspected to be because of the difference in the way the condition presents itself in boys compared to their female counterparts. ADHD symptoms in girls and women are more subtle, and thus harder to identify. In boys they tend to be very obvious and external, e.g impulsivity, lack of focus, etc. 

Research has shown this parallel difference in symptoms, concluding that where boys show externalized symptoms, girls show internalized symptoms such as low self esteem and inattentiveness. Additionally, girls tend to lean towards being more verbally aggressive, instead of being physically aggressive, which is common for boys. It is these subtle differences that make it harder for girls and women to be diagnosed and treated, and can lead to more behaviour complications and other symptoms. 

Trademark ADHD Symptoms in Boys: 

adhd symptoms in boys

  • Inability to focus, sit still, and be attentive 
  • Impulsivity, “acting out”
  • Regularly interrupting the conversations and activities of others
  • Hyperactivity, e.g running and hitting 
  • Talking excessively 

ADHD Symptoms in Girls

different adhd symptoms in girls

  • Anxiety and seeming withdrawn
  • Inability to focus, tendency to daydream
  • Difficulty with academic achievement 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Verbal aggression, e.g teasing or name-calling 

Hyperactive symptoms (more often characteristic of boys) are much easier to identify than inattentive symptoms (more often characteristic of girls). 

Girls or others who don’t exhibit the best known symptoms are often misdiagnosed with a learning disability; or the issue is passed off as one of low motivation or work ethic because these lesser-known signs of ADHD aren’t recognized. 

Treatment of the condition, no matter what your child’s symptoms are, is imperative in order to prevent or lessen difficulty in the future with work, school, and relationships. Additionally, people with ADHD are at a higher risk of developing other disorders such as a learning disability, and a combination of treatments can help lessen that possibility. 

How Magnesium Helps

magnesium for kids with adhd

Magnesium could be helpful for children with ADHD because it plays a role in brain health. This essential mineral regulates numerous hormones that can influence mood and neurological health

For ADHD patients in particular, magnesium helps by acting as a gatekeeper between certain neurotransmitters and their receptors. Glutamate is the best example of this. 

Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter whose primary job is to get other cells in the brain excited and ready to perform important tasks like learning new things or forming memories. 

However, excess glutamate can over-excite neurons and lead to cell death. Too much glutamate even in those who don’t have ADHD can result in restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety, not to mention ADHD-like symptoms such as trouble focusing. Excess glutamate could exacerbate these symptoms for children with ADHD. 

That’s where magnesium comes in.

In order to apply its effects to the body, glutamate must bind with its receptor, called NMDA. Because too much activation can happen easily, the brain needs a tool to regulate the interaction between glutamate and the NMDA receptor. Magnesium is that tool. Magnesium regulates glutamate activation by inhibiting the NMDA receptor, so that the amount of glutamate available is limited. This helps us stay calm and collected.

Studies have found that supplementing magnesium in conjunction with vitamin B6 (both of which are included in Calm Balance) leads to significantly improved anxiety, attention, and hyperactivity, as well as increased attention, work productivity, and task performance. 

Natural supplements like magnesium and B vitamins are often used to treat ADHD as part of a combination that may also include therapy or other medications. If you think you or your child may need ADHD treatment, consult a healthcare professional in order to get a diagnosis and begin the best treatment method for you. 


Magnesium: The Missing Link in Mental Health? – James Greenblatt, MD 

Magnesium supplementation in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder 

07/16/13: Magnesium: The mind mineral

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)  

ADHD Symptoms Differ in Boys and Girls 

Finally Focused: Mineral Imbalances & ADHD (Part 2: Magnesium Deficiency) 

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