Magnesium, Mental Health & Mood Disorders

Low magnesium levels have been associated with increased externalizing behaviors in children. This article aims to provide valuable information on magnesium and its impact on children's mental health, particularly in relation to attention and executive functioning.


The benefits of magnesium for children's mental health and mood disorders and the importance of magnesium in the body, its metabolism, why the body needs it, and how it can be depleted can provide insights into identifying magnesium deficiency in children with mood disorders and highlights the significance of the right form of magnesium for optimal absorption. 

Magnesium is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in various functions within the central nervous system, including cellular transmission and intracellular signal transduction. Research indicates a significant relationship between magnesium levels and psychiatric pathology, such as anxiety, depression, OCD, and ADHD. Low magnesium levels have been associated with increased externalizing behaviors in children. This article aims to provide valuable information on magnesium and its impact on children's mental health, particularly in relation to attention and executive functioning.

Understanding ADHD Subtypes
ADHD symptoms can vary from person to person, but they commonly include difficulty staying focused and completing tasks. Differentiating between inattentive-type and hyperactive-impulsive-type ADHD is essential. Inattentive-type ADHD is characterized by internal distractions and daydreaming, while hyperactive-impulsive-type ADHD revolves around difficulties in regulating responses, controlling impulses, and transitioning between tasks. Children with impulsivity issues may exhibit emotional reactivity and behavioral challenges.

Impulsivity and Learning
Impulsivity negatively impacts learning and executive functioning. The inability to control responses inhibits a child's capacity to engage in higher-level learning activities. Tasks, attentional switching, emotional regulation, and transitioning become challenging. Attention and executive functioning are interconnected but distinct functions necessary for children to learn effectively. Deficits in these areas can lead to learning difficulties and daily functional impairments.

Magnesium Deficiency and Behavior
A growing body of research emphasizes the significance of adequate magnesium levels for brain and mental health. Studies have linked high dietary magnesium intake to decreased depression and anxiety in adults. Low magnesium levels have also been associated with callous or unemotional traits in children. Notably, children with ADHD often exhibit magnesium deficiencies due to feeding problems, inattentiveness, and low dietary intake resulting from psychostimulant medication side effects.

Benefits of Magnesium and B6 Combination
The combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 has shown promise in calming the central nervous system. Studies have reported reductions in hyperexcitability-related behaviors following magnesium treatment. Magnesium and B6 intake normalized magnesium levels and decreased abnormal behaviors associated with hyperexcitability. This combination may hold potential for mitigating ADHD symptoms and improving cognitive function, attention, anxiety, OCD, and depression.

The Role of Magnesium in ADHD and Behavior

Studies have highlighted the significance of magnesium in ADHD and related behavioral issues. A 2016 study in the Journal of Medical Human Genetics found that 72% of ADHD children exhibited magnesium deficiency, potentially due to inattentiveness, feeding problems, and low dietary intake caused by psychostimulant medication side effects. Research has consistently demonstrated that higher magnesium levels are associated with lower levels of anxiety, depression, and ADHD symptoms, with magnesium supplementation showing positive effects in reducing abnormal behaviors (Mousain-Bosc, 2004).


Types of Magnesium for Kids with Attention and Executive Functioning Issues

While all forms of magnesium are important for the nervous system, magnesium glycinate and magnesium L-threonate are particularly beneficial for attention and executive functioning in children.

  1. Magnesium Glycinate: Magnesium glycinate offers various benefits, including increased focus, anxiety and depression relief, bone health promotion, blood sugar management, pain reduction, alleviation of PMS symptoms, and support for cardiac health.

  2. Magnesium L-Threonate: Magnesium L-threonate crosses the blood-brain barrier and supports brain and nerve function. It has shown positive effects in improving cognitive function, attention, and stress reduction. It has been used to treat attention problems, cognitive issues, anxiety, OCD, and depression.

We have included a compatible dose of both forms in the Raffe Good Multi + Prebiotic. 

Recommended Magnesium Intake for ADHD Symptoms:
While obtaining magnesium through a balanced diet is ideal, many individuals, especially children with ADHD, struggle to meet their daily magnesium needs. Research suggests that only 20-40% of magnesium from food is absorbed due to various digestive factors. Supplementation becomes crucial in bridging this gap and optimizing brain function in individuals with ADHD. Identifying magnesium-rich.

Magnesium-rich foods can provide a significant portion of the daily magnesium intake for children. Here is a list of magnesium-rich foods and their approximate magnesium content per serving:

  • Spinach (cooked, 1 cup): 157 mg
  • Swiss chard (cooked, 1 cup): 150 mg
  • Pumpkin seeds (roasted, 1 ounce): 150 mg
  • Almonds (dry roasted, 1 ounce): 80 mg
  • Cashews (dry roasted, 1 ounce): 75 mg
  • Black beans (cooked, 1 cup): 120 mg
  • Avocado (1 medium): 58 mg
  • Yogurt (plain, low-fat, 8 ounces): 42 mg
  • Banana (medium): 32 mg
  • Salmon (cooked, 3 ounces): 26 mg

*Please note that these values are approximate and can vary depending on factors such as cooking methods and food sources.


Daily magnesium intake based on children 0 months- 18 years old:

  • Infants (0-6 months): 30 mg/day
  • Infants (7-12 months): 75 mg/day
  • Children (1-3 years): 80 mg/day
  • Children (4-8 years): 130 mg/day
  • Children (9-13 years): 240 mg/day
  • Males (14-18 years): 410 mg/day
  • Females (14-18 years): 360 mg/day


*These values represent the general recommendations, and individual needs may vary. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized recommendations based on a child's specific dietary needs and health conditions.



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Black, L. J., Allen, K. L., Jacoby, P., Trapp, G. S., Gallagher, C. M., Byrne, S. M., & Oddy, W. H. (2015). Low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased externalising behaviours in adolescents. Public health nutrition, 18(10), 1824–1830.

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Botturi, A., Ciappolino, V., Delvecchio, G., Boscutti, A., Viscardi, B., & Brambilla, P. (2020). The Role and the Effect of Magnesium in Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 12(6), 1661.

Jacka, F. N., Overland, S., Stewart, R., Tell, G. S., Bjelland, I., & Mykletun, A. (2009). Association between magnesium intake and depression and anxiety in community-dwelling adults: the Hordaland Health Study. The Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry, 43(1), 45–52.

Keshteli, A., Afshar, H., Esmaillzadeh, A., & Adibi, P. (2018). The association between dietary intake of magnesium and psychiatric disorders among Iranian adults: a cross-sectional study. The British journal of nutrition, 120(6), 693–702.

Mousain-Bosc, M., Roche, M., Rapin, J., & Bali, J. P. (2004). Magnesium VitB6 intake reduces central nervous system hyperexcitability in children. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 545S–548S.

Portnoy, J., McGouldrick, S. H., Raine, A., Zemel, B. S., Tucker, K. L., & Liu, J. (2021). Lower dietary intake of magnesium is associated with more callous-unemotional traits in children. Nutritional neuroscience, 1–10. Advance online publication.

Starobrat-Hermelin, B., & Kozielec, T. (1997). The effects of magnesium physiological supplementation on hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Positive response to magnesium oral loading test. Magnesium research, 10(2), 149–156.