From a nutritional standpoint, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, juvenile delinquency, and childhood depression are associated with magnesium deficiency, and some say these conditions can be caused by Magnesium.

Magnesium is known as the anti-stress mineral and is vital to the health of any child.

It’s not just adults who can get anxious because of magnesium-deficient diets. Our children are also susceptible when their favorite foods are magnesium-deficient hot dogs, pizza, and soda.

The stress in their lives—from peer pressure, academic and athletic performance pressures, worries about body image, the changes and hormonal fluctuations of puberty, exposure to negative events and violence through the media—also contributes. Even playing in a band can be a risk factor! Children are underdiagnosed when it comes to magnesium deficiency, but they can have magnesium deficiencies for the same reasons as adults.

Dr. Sharna Olfman, a professor of clinical and developmental psychology, issues the following warning in her book No Child Left Different:

“The number of American children being diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses [such as ADHD] has soared over the past decade and a half. Recent years have witnessed a threefold increase in the use of psychotropic medication among patients under twenty years of age, and prescriptions for preschoolers have been skyrocketing. Over 10 million children and adolescents are currently on antidepressants, and about 5 million children are taking stimulant medications such as Ritalin.” 2

In 2005, Columbia University initiated a program called Teen Screen throughout forty states, which screened teens and children for mental health problems.

Unfortunately, such screening usually leads to the prescribing of more harmful drugs. Instead of reaching for Ritalin or Prozac for kids, consider whether they’re getting enough magnesium first. In fact, if these children were simply taken off sugar and put on magnesium, we would have much happier children and thus far fewer harmful side effects from powerful drugs.

Dr. Leo Galland, author of Superimmunity for Kids, speculates that hyperactive children need extra magnesium due to their constantly high adrenaline levels. Dr. Galland recommends 6 mg per pound of weight per day (for example, 240 mg for a 40-lb child). Because magnesium is hard to find in a form suitable for young children, he suggests 1 tbsp of magnesium citrate a day. This can act as a laxative in much larger doses, but in such small doses they supply the necessary magnesium without a laxative effect. 3

If there is any concern about a laxative effect, have your child take several smaller doses of magnesium citrate a day and not take it all in one dose.

1. 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, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 149–156, 1997.

2. Olfman, S. No Child Left Different, Praeger, Westport, CT, 2006, p. 1

3. Galland L, Buchman Diane D., Superimmunity for Kids, Dell, New York, 1988.

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adhdDr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND is the medical director of the non-profit Nutritional Magnesium Association (NMA) which is a trusted authority on the subject of magnesium deficiency and the benefits of nutritional magnesium for a variety of health issues.

Dr. Dean is the author of 22 books including “Homeopathic Remedies for Children’s Common Ailments”, 365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power: Tips, Exercise, Advice”, “The Magnesium Miracle”, “Future Health Now Encyclopedia” and “IBS For Dummies”. Radio, tv, magazines and professional journals interview Dr. Dean regularly — including ABC, NBC and CBS.

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The ideas, procedures and suggestions contained in this article are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician.  All matters regarding your physical health require medical supervision. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss, injury or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this article. The opinions expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and not the publisher.