As parents we naturally worry whether our kids are getting the right nutrition in their diet, or whether they need certain supplements to boost their development and keep them in tiptop condition. Minerals like calcium and zinc might spring easily to our mind, but what about their often-forgotten cousin, magnesium? How is magnesium beneficial for children and why is a magnesium deficiency a cause for concern?
WHAT DOES MAGNESIUM DO FOR MY CHILD?
It might surprise you that magnesium is vital for some 700-800 enzymatic processes throughout the body, making it pretty much the most essential nutrient we should be getting! Magnesium is especially beneficial for children in the areas of their sleep, mood, concentration and energy levels, respiration, DNA formation, bone and teeth health, muscle and nerve health, heart rhythm, blood sugar levels, bowel regulation, immune system, blood pressure levels, hormonal health, digestion and absorption of other nutrients. With such a long list of benefits, it’s a wonder how it isn’t on the top of our priority list to make sure our children are getting the magnesium they need!
HOW MUCH MAGNESIUM DOES MY CHILD NEED?
The recommended dietary advice (RDA) says that toddlers from ages 1 to 3 require around 550mg weekly, while older children from 4 to 8 years require around 900mg weekly. However instead of forcing your child to eat their spinach to the milligram, it helps to look out for magnesium deficiencies in your child.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY CHILD IS NOT GETTING ENOUGH MAGNESIUM?
Two of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency are poor sleep and constipation – which also happens to be two huge areas of concern for most parents! But beyond trouble pooping, a lack of magnesium can also show up in other ways that might be a little harder to identify. For example, because our bodies use up magnesium when we’re stressed, low magnesium levels are also linked to behavioural issues in kids, such as moodiness, hyperactivity, attention deficit, anxiety, restlessness, tics and twitches, muscle spasms, growing pains and cramps, asthma, and may also exacerbate more serious problems such as learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD and autism.
WHY AREN’T MY KIDS GETTING ENOUGH MAGNESIUM?
The simple fact is that magnesium is found in natural sources that kids may not exactly love. We’re talking all-bran cereal, whole grain bread, spinach, oatmeal, brown rice, black-eyed peas, avocado, halibut, pumpkin seeds… yeah you get the picture. Kids actually need to eat a full cup of cooked spinach in order to meet their daily magnesium needs! If only you could get the magnesium you needed from a double chocolate chip cookie, eh!
HOW CAN I GIVE MY KIDS THE MAGNESIUM THEY NEED THEN?
Perhaps that chocolate chip cookie wasn’t too far off after all, because here are four things you can actually do to help boost your child’s magnesium levels for better general health:
1) Increase your child’s consumption of magnesium-rich foods
Surprise surprise, but did you know you can find high levels of magnesium in cocoa powder or even better raw cacao? Try using these when making sugar-free or low-sugar desserts. Your child won’t say no for sure! You’ll have to get creative when it comes to swapping some of the other “magnesium-ey” foods into their diets, such as disguising whole grain bread with a healthy dose of peanut butter (also rich in magnesium), or opting for a soy yogurt topped with raisins, bananas and roasted peanuts (five magnesium-rich foods there!).
2) Decrease foods that reduce magnesium levels
While some foods raise magnesium levels, some drain the body of it. And it’s no surprise they are the usual unhealthy culprits – sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, dairy products, caffeine. When choosing supposedly magnesium-rich foods, for example, yogurt, make sure they don’t contain more magnesium-leeching sugar than they actually do magnesium itself.
3) Choose a good supplement
Since it’s hard to include enough magnesium-rich foods in your child’s diet, opting for a supplement is a good alternative. Most kids’ multivitamins do a good job supplementing magnesium. But be warned! Check that the calcium content in the supplement is not greater than the magnesium content. If that’s the case, the excess calcium will lead to greater magnesium deficiency since our bodies require magnesium to absorb the calcium. Makes sense, right!
4) Boost magnesium through skin
Another form of supplements for kids doesn’t have anything to do with consumption but rather is used on their bodies. Essential Magnesium’s newly launched kids’ range includes Lucas Magnesium Cream 4 Kids and Lucas Magnesium Spray 4 Kids which contain elemental magnesium, arnica montana and aloe vera.
Ideal for kids experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency such as trouble sleeping or night cramping, parents simply have to use the cream or spray on the soles of their feet or in a nighttime massage before their little ones go to bed. Adding a warm bath to your kids’ pre-bedtime routine can also help relax and calm them for more peaceful sleep (this means more peaceful sleep for you too!) Essential Magnesium’s Lucas Special Bath Rocks with magnesium chloride bath flakes are the perfect companion for this.