Sleepless In Autism – Magnesium Deficiency

in AutismHi there!  Let me start this off by saying that the information on how important magnesium is to our health, super extensive.  It weighs in next to food and water regarding it’s necessity for healthy body function.  I will do my best to keep this article from resembling a serious case of word-vomit.

What I find utterly astonishing, is that 8 out of 10 people (especially in the U.S), are severely deficient in it.  I mean, I knew it was bad…but damn, 80%!  How did we become so deficient?  Mainly because there are no vitamins and minerals left in our food due to depleted, tired, overworked soil that has been raped by dangerous chemicals.  Add to that all the junk masquerading as food, with all of it’s chemicals which just completely break down our bodily pathways and well…yeah, 8 out of 10 seems pretty reasonable.

A magnesium deficiency lends to a staggering number of health problems, many of which we don’t even realize could be resolved by merely boosting our intake of this power-nutrient.  You can find loads of articles on the health benefits of magnesium out there, if you want to learn even more.  As usual, I will be focusing on it’s relativity to autism, neuro-disorders, and auto-immune disorders.  In all of my reading and digging around, it is certain to me that a magnesium deficiency plays a starring role in the aforementioned.  It is at the helm of facilitating hundreds of functions within the cells of our bodies.

Diet is a huge contributing factor in magnesium deficiency.  Pharmaceutical drugs, stress, aging, hormonal imbalances etc, all have their roles to play as well…all of which seem to have a common thread.  Modern diets are alarmingly high in processed forms of “food” and chemicals.  Diets high in refined sugars, white breads, artificial colors and preservatives, unhealthy/rancid saturated fats (though not all saturated fats are unhealthy, i.e. coconut oil), antibiotics, asthma medications, birth control pills, heart medications, and diuretics all contribute to depleting magnesium levels in the body.  Why?  Because the chemicals in these types of foods and drugs run interference with the body’s ability to transport, metabolize and absorb minerals and nutrients.  If you or someone you know is also suffering with any type of GI problem, such as Leaky Gut, (commonly seen in those on the spectrum), this also inhibits the absorption of magnesium, in addition to other important vitamins and minerals needed by the body to function properly.

Many of the behaviors of autism, ADD, ADHD, and aspergers are very similar to the symptoms of low magnesium levels.  Some very important examples are; noise sensitivities, poor attention span, poor concentration, restlessness, restless leg syndrome, tantrums, easily stressed/aggravated, aggression, irritability, impaired communication and social difficulties…the list just goes on and on.  It’s actually pretty amazing that a deficiency in this particular mineral can impact and create so many symptoms, isn’t it?  Especially symptoms that all tend to be many of the “red flags” that would land someone on the spectrum.  Goes to show what a commanding role magnesium plays in the body.

Please note, I am not saying that boosting magnesium levels will cure any of the spectrum disorders.  However, I do think it is an extremely important piece of the health “puzzle” regarding the nutrients needed for the correction of the functions that lend to the disruption of the internal pathways that are off-kilter in so many (honestly…all) spectrum cases (and auto-immune disease sufferers in general). 

Every health article that I publish on this blog is another “piece of the puzzle” in mapping out the protocol needed to provide the best shot at healing.

Okay, so how does a magnesium deficiency translate to your life, or the life of someone you know?  The issues mentioned earlier are very important of course, but it is also the robber of sleep.  One of the functions that healthy magnesium levels facilitate is the production of melatonin.  Melatonin is the hormone, secreted by the pineal gland at the base of the brain, that is directly responsible for our sleep and wake schedule, or what is called our circadian rhythm.

Lack of sleep is an issue that most (if not all) of us, that have kids/adults on the neuro-spectrum, are directly/indirectly affected by, every night.  We are the masters of sleeping with one eye open.  Low magnesium is probably the top culprit of sleep problems that people on the spectrum suffer from.  Not probably.  IS.  How do I know this?  Because two years ago I barely slept…ever.  Why?  Because he didn’t, and it was pretty bad, I was at my wits end.  So I researched the crap out of this subject and he sleeps now, every night, all night…for the past two years and counting. YAY!  That is all the convincing this mama needs.

When magnesium levels are low, melatonin levels will be low, and sleep becomes a problem.  You need magnesium to make melatonin so the body can carry out these important functions.  You probably get where I’m going here now, right?  If you are magnesium deficient, you will be melatonin deficient.  And if you’re not getting enough sleep, you are tired, which leads to stress, poor diet, lack of focus, moodiness, sedentary lifestyle, less patience etc.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Side Note – Magnesium deficiency  extends even beyond people suffering with any of these types of conditions.  Anyone with insomnia can typically look to a magnesium deficiency as the perpetrator.  Remember in the beginning I said 8 out of 10 people?  It does seem to me that it’s prevalence in those with neuro-disorders, may have a lot to do with the GI problems and it’s prevalence in “spectrumers”.

I noticed a lot of people believe in just supplementing with straight melatonin, bypassing the magnesium issue completely.  If melatonin is what’s keeping you from sleeping, then it would seem to make the most sense right?

Not exactly.

Every person is different…some people could be somewhat deficient, others could be severely deficient…it’s kinda like shooting at a target blindfolded, hoping to get the bullseye.  Too much melatonin will actually cause the opposite reaction and throw off the circadian rhythm as well, landing you in the same place you started.  Sleepless.  I’ve heard a lot of people say, “melatonin hasn’t worked for my sleep issues”…and this is exactly why.

Supplementation of magnesium is smarter, hands down.  It will have the most positive effect overall.  Your body is smart, it was designed to know what it needs to work properly.  Having the correct magnesium levels will allow the body to properly distribute it where it is needed.  Melatonin is not the only chemical in the body that is reliant on magnesium.  As I stated in the beginning of this article, magnesium is responsible for hundreds of cellular functions in our bodies!  You just can’t go wrong with boosting your magnesium levels if you are deficient.

In my next article, I will explain the various (and most bio-available) sources from which you can begin boosting your daily magnesium intake, and what methods and products have worked best for us.



I am not a doctor. All facts, opinions, details, descriptions, recommendations and most importantly products, are provided for informational and therapeutic purposes only. They are not intended to diagnose, prescribe, or replace advice of professionals. Life Au’ternative™, AuClean™ recommendations and products are based and built upon widely studied, tested and accepted facts about various natural ingredients and their potential health benefits, particularly those that have the ability to help with the side-effects of neurological and auto-immune disorders.


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