Benefits of Magnesium for Kids
Posted on February 05 2022,
Magnesium is an abundant mineral found in the human body. It is naturally present in several foods and also available in the form of dietary supplements and topical ointments. Magnesium is also found in some medications, such as laxatives and antacids.
What does magnesium do? This mineral performs several important functions in the human body, such as regulating nerve conduction, controlling blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and helping the process of DNA replication. It is also an essential mineral for the strength of protein and bones in the body. Magnesium is known to provide several health benefits to children, such as preventing and calming stress and enhancing the attention span. (1)
Deficiency of magnesium can cause several health complications, including muscle cramps, tingling, numbness, and personality changes. Several studies have also revealed that magnesium deficiency is strongly linked with the early onset of chronic diseases, such as heart problems, diabetes, migraines, and Alzheimer’s disease. Major dietary sources of this mineral include cashew nuts, spinach, and almonds. It is ideal to get your daily dose of magnesium through your diet; however, in cases of deficiency, supplements may also be recommended by your doctor. When your child takes in too much magnesium, it can result in several gastrointestinal issues, like stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. People suffering from kidney problems should not take magnesium supplements without the approval of a doctor. (1)(2)
How Does Magnesium Function in Your Child’s Body?
Being the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, magnesium is essential for your child’s body. Almost 60% of magnesium is present in the bones, while the rest is found in body fluid, muscles, soft tissues, and blood. Magnesium is a vital helper molecule, or a co-factor, in various biochemical reactions that are regulated by enzymes. Research has shown that this mineral is involved in more than a hundred biochemical reactions in your child’s body, supporting both body and mind. One study has demonstrated that magnesium is involved in 600 reactions including protein formation, muscle movement, energy production, regulation of the nerve system, and gene maintenance. Magnesium has also been found to help in the active transport of several nutrients including, potassium and calcium. (3)
How is magnesium absorbed in your child’s body? This mineral is absorbed in the small intestine via passive diffusion with the bulk flow of water. Proper absorption of this mineral typically depends on the amount that is ingested. One study revealed that when magnesium intake is optimum, up to 40% is absorbed. Homeostasis of magnesium is controlled by the kidneys, which usually removes about 12 grams of magnesium through urine daily. (1)
Why Do Children Need Magnesium?
Magnesium can help treat multiple concerns in children. It can give your kids a boost of energy and even ease symptoms of asthma in kids. Here are several ways magnesium benefits your child:
- Promotes better and peaceful sleep
- Reduces growing pains
- Helps in reducing swelling, aches, and pains
- Reduces inflammation
- Prevents Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Promotes better and peaceful sleep: Infants, toddlers, and children require an adequate amount of sleep for healthy growth and functioning. Illness, stress, growth spurts, and several other conditions can disturb sleep, also affecting your child’s immune system, energy levels, and mood.
Research has demonstrated that magnesium is effective in improving both the quality and amount of sleep in children. Some magnesium rubbed on the body before going to bed or a soothing magnesium bath can give your child a refreshing and deeper sleep. (4)
Reduces growing pains: Growing pains are common in kids and can be painful and distressing as their bodies experience fast growth. How can magnesium help ease the discomfort? Research has found that magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, it can soothe the aches and pains that are caused by growing muscles and bones. You can simply apply magnesium oil directly onto affected areas for relief. It is normal to experience a tingling sensation on the skin when magnesium is applied topically. This sensation should reduce with time, and you can also dilute magnesium oil with water if that makes it more comfortable for your kids. (4)
Helps in reducing swelling, aches, and pains: Broken bones, bruises, and bumps seem to be a big part of growing up, and magnesium can help your child to cope with the aftermath. A recent study has found that magnesium can help reduce pain and swelling/inflammation and also speed up the healing process. This makes magnesium a natural substitute for the use of other over-the-counter medications. (5)
Reduces inflammation: A lack of magnesium in the body can result in chronic inflammation, which leads to long-term health complications, such as diabetes and ailments related to obesity. One recent study depicted that children with low magnesium in their blood levels have more of the inflammatory marker CRP (C - reactive protein) in their blood. They also have more triglycerides and higher blood sugar levels. Magnesium supplements have been shown to be effective in reducing CRP and other inflammatory markers in children. (6)
Prevents Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Did you know research has found a link between magnesium deficiency and ADHD in children? This is because magnesium naturally calms the nervous system of children by increasing the production of serotonin (a chemical that regulates mood and sleep). This helpful mineral not only calms children but also helps reduce stress, which ultimately increases their attention span. Another scientific study has shown that children with lower magnesium intake have a 22% more risk to develop depression at a later age due to these same calming effects that magnesium has on the body. Remember that magnesium is not a cure, but this research shows how important it is to ensure the inclusion of adequate vitamins and minerals in your child’s diet. (7)
What Is Magnesium Deficiency?
Magnesium deficiency is also known as hypomagnesemia, which is an often-overlooked health problem. According to a survey, almost 2% of Americans are deficient in magnesium and 75% are not getting enough magnesium through diet. In some cases, magnesium deficiency is underdiagnosed because its symptoms appear slowly. Some common reasons for magnesium deficiency include: (8)
- Poor dietary intake
- Excessive magnesium loss
- Some medical conditions, such as Gastrointestinal Diseases (GI Disease)
The common signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency in children include:
- Muscle cramps and twitches
- Muscle weakness and fatigue
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mental health concerns
Muscle cramps and twitches: If your child often complains about muscle twitches and cramps, then they might be suffering from magnesium deficiency according to the research. This is because a lack of magnesium results in greater flow of calcium to the nerve cells which leads to hyperstimulation of the muscles. Severe deficiency of magnesium has even been found to cause convulsions and seizures in children. (9)
Muscle weakness and fatigue: Fatigue is a condition that leads to weakness, mental and physical exhaustion. We can understand a possible cause of fatigue when it is accompanied by other signs and symptoms in the body, like muscle weakness. Muscle weakness, also known as myasthenia, is a more specific symptom of magnesium deficiency. According to health experts, muscle weakness can be caused by low potassium levels in the muscle cells that are associated with magnesium deficiency. (10)
Irregular heartbeat: Irregular heartbeat, or heart arrhythmia, is the most dangerous symptom of magnesium deficiency in kids. Possible signs of arrhythmia include chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting, and headaches. This condition in children increases the risk of heart failure and stroke at a later age.
Research has shown that people with congestive heart failure have lower levels of magnesium than those who don’t have the condition. Treating these folks with magnesium injections immediately improved their heart functions. Furthermore, magnesium supplements have also been found to help reduce the symptoms of arrhythmia. (11)
How Much Magnesium Does Your Kid Need per Day?
Dosing recommendations for magnesium are given in the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). DRI is the optimal amount of nutrients that a person needs per day. (1)
It is important to provide an adequate amount of magnesium to your children in order to meet their body’s requirements. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this mineral is provided in milligrams (mg) below: (1)
|Age||Recommended daily amount in milligrams (mg)|
|0-6 months||30 mg|
|7-12 months||75 mg|
|1-3 years||80 mg|
|4-8 years||130 mg|
|9-13 years||240 mg|
|14-18 years||410 mg (males); 360 mg (females)|
|19+ years||400 mg (males); 310 mg (females)|
Should You Give Magnesium Supplements to Your Kids?
It is suggested you your child’s magnesium needs are met primarily through dietary sources. However, in cases of deficiency supplements may be used with the approval of a pediatrician. If you decide to give magnesium supplements to your child, it’s important to know that this mineral must be taken with calcium because they work closely together in the human body to maintain muscle health! According to health experts, magnesium should be safely supplemented in children at 1:2 ratios with calcium. (13)
Foods That Are Rich in Magnesium
Magnesium is largely found in animal- and plant-based foods as well as some beverages. Seeds, leafy green vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes also contain a good amount of magnesium. In general, foods with high fiber content are also rich in magnesium.
Below are some foods that contain a good amount of magnesium: (1)
|Food||Serving size||Milligrams (mg) per serving|
|Roasted pumpkin seeds||1 oz||156 mg|
|Dry roasted almonds||1 oz||80 mg|
|Roasted cashews||1 oz||74 mg|
|Roasted peanuts||1/4 cup||64 mg|
|Plain soy milk||1 cup||61 mg|
|Cooked black beans||1/2 cup||60 mg|
|Smooth peanut butter||2 tbsp||49 mg|
|Cooked brown rice||1/2 cup||42 mg|
|Cooked kidney beans||1/2 cup||35 mg|
|Instant oatmeal||1 packet||36 mg|
|Banana||1 medium||32 mg|
|Milk||1 cup||25 mg|
|Fresh avocado||1/2 cup||22 mg|
Risks and Side Effects of Magnesium
Magnesium taken in the recommended amounts is safe for children. In some people, magnesium supplements can cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. When taken in large amounts over longer periods of time (more than 350 mg per day), magnesium starts to build up in the human body and can lead to serious health complications, including slow breathing, irregular heartbeat, confusion, and low blood pressure.
Some studies have found that magnesium supplements can also interact with some antibiotics and can cause muscle problems. It is not recommended to take magnesium supplements with antibiotics (tetracycline, quinolone, and aminoglycoside) to prevent these side effects. Another study revealed that magnesium can also interact with medicines that are used to control high blood pressure (calcium channel blockers). It is recommended that magnesium supplements are taken 2 hours before or after taking any other medicine. You should always consult with your child’s doctor to ensure that any medications they are taking do not interact poorly with other medications or vitamin and mineral supplements you might give to your child. (14)
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral found in the human body. It plays a significant role in maintaining the health of your child’s brain and body. It provides several health benefits to infants, young children, and teens, such as promoting better sleep, reducing growing pains, reducing swelling, aches, pain, and inflammation and preventing symptoms of ADHD. Major dietary sources of this essential mineral include bran, grains, seeds, and nuts. Deficiency of magnesium (hypomagnesemia) can affect your child’s muscle and brain health. Magnesium is a helpful mineral for providing a calming effect to your child, and it has even been used to aid in sleep. It is found in pill, powder and topical forms. Magnesium supplements may be given to your child after the approval of your child’s pediatrician.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.