How Does Magnesium Help Autism

magnesium help autism
Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that has a significant impact on a child's life, notably affecting their ability to engage socially and often characterized by repetitive behaviors (CDC, 2021). For parents and caregivers of these children, one of the many challenges faced is helping their loved ones manage the daily stresses and anxieties that are a common part of life with ASD.

Meet Ryan, a courageous young man of 20 years old, living with autism who I worked with several years ago. Much like your own child, Ryan found himself wrestling with the daily ups and downs of ASD. His journey has been a series of trials and triumphs, with his parents standing by his side every step of the way, just like you are for your child.

Research over recent years has illuminated new paths in managing and supporting children with ASD. One such beacon of hope that's emerging is the role of vitamins and minerals, particularly magnesium, in boosting brain function and behavior (Uysal et al., 2018). Ryan's story exemplifies how these new findings can translate into real-life changes.

Our understanding of magnesium's role in the human body has grown exponentially. We now know it is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions, with functions ranging from supporting energy production to facilitating efficient muscle contraction (De Baaij et al., 2015). However, iIts primary role, however, that holds promising implications for children like Ryan, lies in its involvement with neurotransmission, or in simpler terms, brain function.

Magnesium supplementation, a natural and non-invasive approach, has shown immense potential in supporting attention, mood regulation, and stress management, thus potentially enhancing the behavior in children with ASD. 

Ryan's parents, like many others, sought natural ways to support their child's development and improve symptoms. Upon introducing magnesium supplements to Ryan's routine, they noticed positive changes – reduced sensory processing issues and a broadened acceptance of varied foods, outcomes they hadn't dreamed of before. He was a failure to launch kid, so they weren’t sure he would ever launch – but with the right support, he did!

Sharing stories like Ryan's isn't about offering a ‘one-size-fits-all' solution, because we know each child, each person with autism is unique. Instead, it's about providing hope and sharing possibilities. It's about the potential of natural solutions, like magnesium, that could be a part of the strategy to support your child's well-being and development.

So, as we journey together through the research and the science, remember that you're not alone in this. You're part of a community, a family that's constantly learning, growing, and striving to provide the best for their loved ones. Let's explore further how the integration of essential minerals, particularly magnesium, can potentially benefit our extraordinary children with ASD.

A poster depicting the correlation between magnesium and mental health, with the words "neurotic soon" highlighted.
Ultimate Guide to Neurotransmitters

Magnesium Supplementation as an Easy and Safe Way to Boost Brain Function and Behavior


Taking magnesium supplements can improve brain function and behavior in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Magnesium is an essential mineral that supports various biological processes, particularly for optimal brain functioning. Magnesium is an important mineral that helps with many biological processes, especially for the brain to work well.

It acts as a gatekeeper to the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors, essential elements for memory formation and learning (De Baaij et al., 2015). Ensuring adequate levels of magnesium in the brain is, therefore, crucial for regulating these critical neurological activities. 

Magnesium can help people with autism by improving their mood, reducing hyperactivity, and enhancing social behavior. This has the potential to greatly benefit their mental health (Uysal et al., 2018).

Highlighted below are some notable benefits of magnesium supplementation for autistic individuals:

  • Enhances Learning and Memory: Magnesium is important for activating NMDA receptors, which help neurons communicate for memory and learning.This activation can help improve cognitive functions in autistic children (De Baaij et al., 2015). Magnesium threonate in particular is noted for improving brain functioning.
  • Regulates Mood Disorders: Magnesium affects brain chemicals, impacting emotions, fear and mental health. Its supplementation could thus help manage mood disorders often witnessed in individuals with ASD (Uysal et al., 2018).
  • Manages Hyperactivity Disorder: With its calming effect on the brain, magnesium can help in the management of hyperactivity disorders, providing a sense of relaxation and enhancing focus in autistic individuals (Uysal et al., 2018).
  • Promotes Better Social Behavior: Magnesium supplements have the potential to improve social skills in people with autism. This is because they can alter specific chemicals in the brain and lower stress levels. Social skills can often be challenging for individuals with autism (Uysal et al., 2018).
  • Supports Overall Brain Health: Magnesium is crucial for the brain's health and function. It helps with enzymatic reactions, energy production, and protein synthesis. It also supports neuron health (De Baaij et al., 2015).

Magnesium supplements can benefit autistic individuals by improving their brain health and behavior. This approach is simple and effective, without requiring invasive methods.

Low Magnesium Levels in Autistic Children

Low Magnesium Levels

Children with autism often have less magnesium than other children without autism, according to clinical studies.(Bjørklund et al., 2018). The reasons behind this magnesium deficiency are multi-faceted, potentially arising from a range of factors, including nutritional deficiencies, poor absorption in the digestive tract, or even excessive excretion due to stress or exposure to heavy metals.

Lack of magnesium can show up in different ways, often similar to behavioral problems, like impulsiveness, linked to ASD.

If your child is struggling with magnesium deficiency, you may notice some of the following high level of symptoms:

  • Irritability: Regular bouts of unexplained moodiness or easily becoming upset.
  • Restlessness: Difficulty sitting still, constant fidgeting, and an inability to focus.
  • Cognitive difficulties: Problems with memory, attention, or decision-making.
  • Anxiety: Signs of undue worry, nervousness, or fearfulness.
  • Sleep disturbances: Trouble falling asleep, frequent waking, or overall restlessness during the night.
  • Muscle weakness or spasms: Lack of strength or unexpected muscle twitches and contractions.

These symptoms don't just appear in a clinical checklist. They are everyday realities for children like Ryan, who, before the start of his magnesium supplementation, was experiencing these behavioral challenges. Ryan's story isn't unique; many children on the spectrum share similar experiences.

But there's hope. The initiation of magnesium supplementation in Ryan's routine has been transformative.His family noticed a significant improvement in his mood and behavior. He became less irritable, restless, and had less trouble thinking.

The seemingly small step of adding a natural mineral supplement to Ryan's routine has had life-changing positive effects. For parents looking for symptom reduction, they need to consider the effectiveness of magnesium in supporting the brain and behavior.

The Role of Magnesium in Social Interaction and Reducing Repetitive Behaviors


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is often defined by problems with socializing and repetitive actions. These challenges may include difficulty understanding body language, forming connections, or adjusting to different social situations. Additionally, repetitive behaviors like echolalia (repeating words or phrases), body rocking, or insistence on sameness could also persist. Here's where the role of magnesium, an abundant mineral in the human body, comes into play.

Magnesium is a pivotal mineral in maintaining the proper function of our central nervous system (De Baaij et al., 2015). It controls the GABA receptors in the brain, which calm the central nervous system by reducing nerve transmission (Pevsner et al., 2019). 

This unique function of magnesium is especially beneficial for individuals with ASD, who often struggle with anxiety, hyperactivity, and other mood disorders. By helping to balance the activities of GABA receptors, magnesium contributes significantly to reducing these symptoms and overall improved mental health.

Additionally, it is believed that magnesium does more than just affect GABA receptors. Studies show that magnesium may also assist in controlling other neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are linked to feelings of pleasure, mood regulation, and overall brain function (Uysal et al., 2018). 

Changes in these chemicals in the brain are common in people with ASD. Balancing them might help improve social interactions and decrease repetitive behaviors.

Studies show that magnesium might help reduce aggressive behavior in people with ASD(Kirkland et al., 2018). It is believed that magnesium can calm the brain, leading to less irritability and aggression.

Magnesium can help with ASD symptoms, but it affects each person differently. What works for one person may not work for another, so personalized approaches are needed. However, magnesium can improve social interaction and reduce repetitive behaviors, giving hope for managing ASD.

Magnesium Supplementation for ASD – Clinical Trials and Recent Studies


When looking into treatments for ASD, we rely on research and studies to learn how effective and beneficial they are. In the case of magnesium supplementation, various studies have pointed to its promise as a supportive strategy for managing ASD symptoms. 

One study indicated that there was a significant decrease in ASD-related symptoms after 6 months of magnesium-vitamin B6 supplementation (Mousain-Bosc et al., 2006). Furthermore, a systematic review article and clinical trials show that magnesium supplementation can lead to significant improvements in social interaction, communication, and stereotypic behavior in children with autism (Starobrat-Hermelin & Kozielec, 1997). However, well-controlled studies with larger sample sizes are required for more definitive results.

Magnesium and Autism Research Findings 


Magnesium and Autism Research Findings

  • Mousain-Bosc et al., (2006) found a significant decrease in ASD-related symptoms after 6 months of magnesium-vitamin B6 supplementation. This suggested that this combination could be beneficial in managing ASD symptoms.
  • Starobrat-Hermelin & Kozielec (1997) reported significant improvements in social interaction, communication, and stereotypic behavior in children with autism who received magnesium supplementation. These results highlighted the potential benefits of magnesium in enhancing these critical aspects of development and behavior.
  • Nogovitsina & Levitina (2007) identified that magnesium therapy significantly improved electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns in children with autism, reflecting an improvement in brain function.
  • Ghanizadeh & Moghimi-Sarani (2013) found that magnesium-vitamin B6 supplementation could improve hyperactivity, which is often observed in children with ASD.

Magnesium Citrate, Epsom Salts, and Other Easy Ways to Increase Magnesium Intake


Magnesium, a crucial mineral, can be obtained not only through supplements but also from various everyday sources. For instance, introducing a diet rich in magnesium-packed foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can significantly enhance your child's magnesium levels. Legumes, tofu, and even dark chocolate are additional nutritious and delicious options that are magnesium-rich.

Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate, can be a part of your child's relaxing routine. Adding these salts to a warm bath can provide a dual effect of calming the nervous system and absorbing some magnesium through the skin, a beneficial and enjoyable approach, particularly before bedtime. It also can provide sensory support and calm the autistic child’s sensory system

In terms of supplementation, various forms of magnesium exist, each with their unique characteristics. Magnesium citrate, one of the most common types, is readily absorbed by the body, making it an efficient way to boost magnesium levels. 

Magnesium bisglycinate chelate, where magnesium is bound to the amino acid glycine, is an excellent option for those who experience digestive issues, as it's gentle on the stomach and does not typically cause loose stools, a common side effect with other forms of magnesium.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions of Magnesium Supplementation


While the benefits of magnesium supplementation are numerous, it's essential to approach any new treatment with an understanding of possible side effects. Magnesium is generally considered safe, but excessive intake can lead to diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping when taking too much.

Further, magnesium can lower blood pressure. This effect is generally beneficial, but for those with naturally low blood pressure or those taking blood pressure medications, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before starting magnesium supplementation. It is important to keep in mind that the goal should always be balanced supplementation, with the child's high density nutrient and magnesium rich diet and supplements being monitored to prevent excessive intake.

Magnesium and Amino Acids: The Champions Against Oxidative Stress and Free Radicals


Have you ever seen rust form on metal or watched an apple turn brown after cutting? That's oxidative stress in action, causing damage to our cells. It's not just about protecting our children from outside dangers; we also need to shield them from inside threats. That's where magnesium steps in as a superhero, fighting against harmful free radicals and minimizing their impact.

But magnesium doesn't work alone. It teams up with amino acids, the unsung heroes behind the scenes. These hardworking workers play vital roles in our body, controlling functions like immune response, digestion, and mood regulation. Glycine and glutamine, two amino acids, form a dynamic duo with magnesium. They guide magnesium through the intricate pathways of our body, ensuring its absorption and creating easily absorbed compounds like magnesium glycinate and magnesium glutamate.

When it comes to our children with autism, we have hope that magnesium and amino acids can make a difference in their health. As parents and caregivers, we can incorporate these powerful allies into their daily routines to support their overall well-being. Magnesium becomes a friend and helper, benefiting various functions in their brain and body.

The collaboration between magnesium and amino acids paints a picture of our body's intricate interconnected system. It reminds us that our children's health relies on a harmonious dance of nutrients and biochemical processes. With the right knowledge and guidance, we can optimize this dance, creating the best environment for our children to thrive. Together, let's embrace the power of magnesium and amino acids for our child's health journey.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet and Amino Acids for Magnesium Absorption


When it comes to achieving optimal health and wellness, maintaining a balanced diet takes center stage. It's not just about ensuring that we get a wide variety of nutrients, but it's also about creating the ideal conditions for their absorption, especially for crucial minerals like magnesium.

Certain nutrients, such as vitamins D and C, enhance the absorption of magnesium, ensuring that this valuable mineral is efficiently transported from the food we eat into our bloodstream, and from there, to the cells where it's needed the most.

Amino acids, particularly glycine and glutamine, are critical for magnesium absorption in the gut. They act like dance partners to magnesium, aiding its smooth transition into the bloodstream and contributing to the overall harmony of the process.

By ensuring that your child's diet is balanced and nutrient-dense, you're setting the stage for efficient magnesium absorption. This not only optimizes the benefits your child receives from magnesium intake but also contributes to their overall health and wellness. As parents, knowing how to orchestrate this nutrient ‘dance' offers us an effective way to support our children's health journey and help them thrive.

Other Essential Minerals, Vitamins, and Fatty Acids for Brain Health in ASD that Complement Magnesium for Autism Treatment


Magnesium does not work alone in supporting brain health in ASD. Magnesium is a critical player in supporting brain health in ASD, but it doesn't work in isolation. Magnesium works with other nutrients to support important biological processes like neurotransmission, immune system function, and response to oxidative stress.We often couple magnesium supplements with CALM PEMF™ to support the nervous system in regulating behaviors related to ADHD and autism, as well as OCD. 

Here are some of the key vitamins that work in tandem with magnesium for autism:

  • Vitamin B6: This vitamin works synergistically with magnesium, enhancing its absorption and functionality. 
  • Vitamin C: This potent antioxidant helps combat oxidative stress and supports the immune system. Vitamin C also helps improve the absorption of magnesium, making it a beneficial nutrient to include in the diet of children with ASD.
  • Vitamin D:. It enhances magnesium absorption, and there's growing evidence suggesting that vitamin D deficiency is common in ASD, further underscoring its importance.
  • Folic Acid: Methylated folic acid, along with vitamin methylated B12, helps synthesize DNA and RNA and aids in the production of neurotransmitters.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids contribute to the health of the nervous system and have been shown to have a calming effect on behavior.
  • Zinc: Zinc is a vital mineral that works hand-in-hand with magnesium.  Zinc deficiency has been observed in children with ASD, suggesting its supplementation may be beneficial.
  • Calcium: Calcium is another essential mineral that should be balanced with magnesium. It's vital for nerve function and muscle contraction, including the heart muscle. 

 key vitamins that work in tandem with magnesium for autism

Together, these nutrients can complement magnesium supplementation, enhancing the overall effectiveness of this approach in managing ASD symptoms. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting or changing any supplementation regimen to ensure safety and efficacy.

The Significant Improvements and Benefits of Magnesium for Children with ASD


There are many potential benefits of magnesium supplementation in ASD. Studies suggest significant improvements in attention, mood, stress, and behavior. The existing body of evidence suggests that magnesium plays a key role in promoting optimal brain health in children with ASD.

Natural solutions can be part of your child’s healing regimen. The combination of a balanced diet, appropriately chosen dietary supplements, and an understanding of how to optimize essential mineral intake offers parents an accessible way to support their children with ASD. Always remember, any supplementation should be under the guidance of a healthcare provider to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Empower yourself with the knowledge and tools to support your child's mental health and behavior in their autism journey. If you're looking for more natural solutions to enhance their well-being,  Take the first step towards a brighter future filled with hope and possibilities. 


I apologize for the confusion. Here are the citations in APA style:

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Retrieved from

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Mousain-Bosc, M., Roche, M., Polge, A., Pradal-Prat, D., Rapin, J., & Bali, J. P. (2006). Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. II. Pervasive developmental disorder-autism. Magnesium Research, 19(1), 46-52. doi: 10.1684/mrh.2006.0009.

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She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

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