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Benefits of magnesium in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Posted:  Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Magnesium improves neuropsychiatric behaviour in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Children deficient in magnesium may exhibit attention-deficit disorders. Magnesium is required for brain energy harvest and smooth neural communications through the central nervous system; it is an important component in the synthesis of serotonin. Magnesium deficiency is associated with reduced cognition and reduced attention span, along with aggression, fatigue, and lack of concentration in children. In a new study published in the Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics, the magnesium level in normal children and children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was compared; the efficacy of magnesium supplementation was assessed in ADHD children.

In this case-control, prospective, interventional, comparative study, the levels of magnesium in serum and hair samples of 25 ADHD and 25 age- as well as sex-matched healthy children, aged 6 to16 years and with an intelligent quotient(IQ)>70, were compared. Detailed information on the subjects’ medical history and clinical examination was collected. The DSM (IV) scale was used to confirm the diagnosis of ADHD, and children with ADHD were further assessed using Conners’ parent rating scales, Wisconsin card sorting test, and Wechsler intelligence scale for children.

In the second phase of the study, magnesium-deficient ADHD children were randomly divided into two groups. The first group (A) received a magnesium supplementation (dosage of 200 mg/day) along with standard medical treatment; the second group (B) received standard medical therapy alone, without supplementation. After 8 weeks, both groups were assessed and compared with Conners’ parent rating scale and Wisconsin card sorting tests.

The study findings indicated a significant difference in hair magnesium levels between healthy children and ADHD children. However, there was no significant difference with regard to serum magnesium level, attention, memory loss, fear, restlessness, insomnia, cramps, and dizziness between the two groups. Among ADHD children, there was a significant correlation between hair magnesium levels and total IQ; and a significant indirect correlation with the hyperactivity components of Conners’ scale.

Supplementation with magnesium was associated with a significant improvement in the inattention (77.7%) and hyperactivity (88.9%) components of the Conner’s scale. The supplementation regimen significantly improved ADHD, but 22.2% of subjects experienced adverse effects in the form of mild abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

ADHD is a common neuropsychiatric disorder that may result in psychological as well as cognitive impairments, affecting both personal and professional life. Early detection, proper care, and dietary supplementations with specific nutrients such as magnesium, along with standard medical treatment, can considerably improve the prognosis and quality of life of ADHD subjects.

News Source: El Baza F, AlShahawi HA, Zahra S, et al. Magnesium supplementation in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics. 2016 Jan 31;17(1):63-70.