Incorporate foods rich in magnesium to improve Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

May 1, 2024

Food can have a significant effect on how we feel and function. Today I wanted to talk about magnesium and ADHD. Magnesium is a very important mineral that plays a role in more than 300 enzymatic reactions, so it is no surprise, it is so important for the healthy functioning of our body. There is an association between low magnesium levels and ADHD. Magnesium is believed to affect some neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine which play a role in ADHD.1

Reduced magnesium is linked to tiredness, poor concentration, nervousness, mood swings, aggression, muscle cramping, headaches, poor sleep, and cognitive changes. Magnesium is also believed to play a role in the synthesis of omega 3 fatty acids which help our brains to function optimally improving our focus and thinking. It is also an anti-inflammatory which can help in many other respects.2

Kids are often attracted to highly coloured, high sugar, “fast” foods. These types of foods are low in magnesium. Food choice may play a role in the child’s ADHD symptoms. You can increase the amount of magnesium in your diet by including foods like seeds (pumpkin, chia, or sunflower), cocoa powder or popcorn. Additionally, you can have an Epsom salts bath or use a magnesium oil spray regularly.

Be mindful of taking magnesium supplements as there is an upper limit to the amount of magnesium you can consume per day. In addition, there can be gastrointestinal side effects when taken orally. The upper level for children aged 1 to 3 years is 65mg, 4 to 8 years 110mg, and everyone else 350mg per day. Excess consumption of oral magnesium can result in diarrhoea. In 2023, a research paper has questioned the upper limit of the daily magnesium dosage, as there is some evidence that the upper limit can safely be higher.  In one study they showed that daily magnesium dosage could go up to 1200mg without increasing gastro disturbances.3  

A number of my clients consume more than the recommended dietary intake and do not experience diarrhoea. Some of my more sensitive clients however do have side effects. In my opinion if you are experiencing symptoms of low magnesium, I would suggest starting with the recommended dietary intake of 350mg per day. Review how your body reacts and if your symptoms are improving continue with that dosage. If you experience side effects reduce the dose. If you don’t experience side effects but you still have symptoms you could explore increasing the dosage by 50mg.

If you need support with your nutritional and supplementaion needs, please reach out to book a private health coaching session with me. Experience the pinnacle of health and wellness with our exclusive Health Coaching in Blue Mountains and Western Sydney Areas. Seize control of your health journey and Reserve your spot now!




1. Grober U., Schmidt J. and Kisters K. 2015. Magnesium in prevention and therapy. Nutrients, 7:8199-8226.

2. Robberecht H., Verlaet A.A.J., Breynaert A., and De Bruyne T. 2020. Magnesium, Iron, copper and selenium status in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Molecules, 25:4440.

3. Costello R., Rosanoff A., Nielsen F. and West C. 2023. Perspective: Call for Re-evaluation of the tolerable upper intake level for magnesium supplementation in adults. Advances in nutrition, 14: 973-982.

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