Magnesium Deficiency and ADHD

July 30, 2023 4 mins to read

One of the more studied deficiencies connected with ADHD is Magnesium. According to research this mineral appears to play a pivotal role in the complex network of factors that contribute to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children (1) and likely in adults as well.

The Discovery of Magnesium Deficiency in ADHD

A noteworthy piece of research emerged, which raised eyebrows in pediatric circles. According to a study conducted by Kozielec and Starobrat-Hermelin, an astounding 95% of children diagnosed with ADHD were identified as being deficient in magnesium (2). This was a startling revelation. This brought to light the question: Could magnesium deficiency be a simple yet overlooked contributor to ADHD?

On-Going Research on Magnesium for ADHD

In light of these findings, medical professionals began to further research the role of magnesium supplementation as an adjunctive intervention for ADHD. Before starting new supplements however, it’s important to consult a professional like nutritionist or dietician (book an appt with me) or if it’s for your child, someone that specializes in pediatrics (3).


In a general context, a dose of 150 to 300 milligrams of magnesium per day is typically suggested for children, though the appropriate dosage hinges upon the unique needs of the individual (4) and again a professional should be consulted before starting new supplements..

The Best Form of Magnesium for ADHD

Magnesium comes in many different forms and it can be confusing to decide which form is best. Here are the 3 most common forms of magnesium, often recommended for ADHD:

  1. Magnesium Citrate: Renowned for its superior bioavailability, magnesium citrate is a prevalent form that is readily absorbed by the body (5). It also has a slightly laxative effect and may cause minor nausea.
  2. Magnesium Glycinate: Intriguingly, this form is conjugated with glycine, an amino acid, bestowing upon it a calming property (6).
  3. Magnesium L-Threonate: A more recent addition to the family of magnesium supplements. It is suggested Magnesium L-Threonate is the best form due to its capacity to breach the blood-brain barrier, suggesting a more direct influence on brain function (7). It is however also the most expensive form.

Side Effects and Contraindications

As with anything there are always side effects to look out for, even with natural supplements. For magnesium some side effects may include: stomach upset, and an excessively low blood pressure. Magnesium can also interact unfavorably with certain medications (8).

Ultimately, while magnesium may offer symptomatic relief for children with ADHD, it is not a panacea. The effectiveness of these forms of magnesium is individual-specific and further research is necessary to definitively elucidate which form is the most efficacious for ADHD (9). In addition there are numerous other deficiencies and factors involved in ADHD. Always consult with a naturopathic practitioner or nutritionist (book an appt with me) to ascertain the optimal form and dosage and include it as part of a comprehensive nutritional plan tailored to their unique health status.


  1. Huss, M., Völp, A., & Stauss-Grabo, M. (2010). Supplementation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, magnesium and zinc in children seeking medical advice for attention-deficit/hyperactivity problems – an observational cohort study. Lipids in health and disease, 9, 105.
  2. Kozielec, T., & Starobrat-Hermelin, B. (1997). Assessment of magnesium levels in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Magnesium research, 10(2), 143–148.
  3. Rucklidge, J. J., & Kaplan, B. J. (2014). Broad-spectrum micronutrient formulas for the treatment of psychiatric symptoms: a systematic review. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 14(1), 49–73.
  4. Boyle, N. B., Lawton, C., & Dye, L. (2017). The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(5), 429.
  5. Lindberg, J. S., Zobitz, M. M., Poindexter, J. R., & Pak, C. Y. (1990). Magnesium bioavailability from magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 9(1), 48–55.
  6. Nielsen, F. H., & Lukaski, H. C. (2006). Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. Magnesium research, 19(3), 180–189.
  7. Slutsky, I., Abumaria, N., Wu, L. J., Huang, C., Zhang, L., Li, B., Zhao, X., Govindarajan, A., Zhao, M. G., Zhuo, M., Tonegawa, S., & Liu, G. (2010). Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron, 65(2), 165–177.
  8. Guerrera, M. P., Volpe, S. L., & Mao, J. J. (2009). Therapeutic uses of magnesium. American family physician, 80(2), 157–162.
  9. Sarris, J., Kean, J., Schweitzer, I., & Lake, J. (2017). Complementary medicines (herbal and nutritional products) in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a systematic review of the evidence. Complementary therapies in medicine, 16(4), 216–227.

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