Magnesium is an important and necessary element for human health. It is the second most abundant electrolyte in the body within the cells (the first being potassium), and the fourth most common mineral after calcium, potassium and sodium.
The human cells will die without adequate magnesium and low levels will affect over 300 enzymatic systems in the body. These are crucial factors needed in the growth, development and brain development of children for protein synthesis, DNA and RNA production, Vitamin B1 activation and the utilization of other important nutrients such as Calcium, Potassium, Zinc, Iron and Vitamin D
Magnesium deficiency is widespread in children. Unfortunately, if left untreated, it inevitably leads to many physical and mental health concerns which stem from metabolic dysregulation of the deficiency.
Important for a calm mood and relaxation in children, it facilitates sleep. Therefore, a deficiency can lead to agitation, overexcitability, anxiety, irritability, attention and aggression problems in children.
Whether it be physical or emotional, stress increases the need for magnesium in children. As the body releases magnesium from the cells when stressed, it further increases the potential for a magnesium deficiency crisis. Deficiencies have also been recorded in children with ADHD and ASD.
As the main causes of magnesium deficiency in children are inadequate intake, their growth and development will also deplete magnesium stores and require a constant additional supply.
The highest sources of magnesium are found in seeds, nuts, green vegetables, legumes and wholegrains and unfortunately these are foods that may not be eaten regularly by children.
Children who are “picky” eaters are most prone to magnesium deficiency as are those on a low-fibre, low vegetable, highly processed and non-organic diet. Also, children who have sensory or eating Again, food disorders will be prone to deficiencies.
At home food processing factors such as overcooking or overboiling of foods also lead to significant magnesium losses in the foods.
Modern agricultural practices such as fertilization, pesticides and the continued unrenewed quality of the soil are also depleting the nutrients which in turn, contribute to a lack of magnesium in the products grown from those soils.
Diets high in sugar, soft drinks and salt are high in phosphoric acids which also leach magnesium from the body.
Signs that your child may need extra Magnesium are:
- Muscular weakness and lethargy
- Difficulty maintaining attention, over-excitability and hyperactivity
- Teeth grinding
- Noise Sensitivity
- Anxiety, excessive worry, irritability, panic attacks
- Twitching muscles (especially in small muscles such as the eye lid), spasms, leg cramps and growing pains
Conditions that may require Magnesium supplementation are:
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
- Anxiety and depression
- Muscle cramps/growing pains
- Migraine headaches
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), ADHD, ASD
- Asthma, dermatitis, atopic conditions
- Low gastric secretions
- Cystic fibrosis
- General behavioural difficulties, aggression and mood swings
- Unfavourable blood lipid (fat) profiles
- Physical performance
- Recurrent bacterial and fungal infections
- Restless leg syndrome
- Tourette’s Syndrome
As excess Magnesium supplementation is linked to diarrhea, which is actually classed as the first symptom of magnesium excess (above 350mg per day), reducing the dose or dividing the dosages throughout the day will lessen this effect. However, magnesium ingested with foods has no adverse side effects or risks.
As Magnesium is linked to a range of conditions due to its crucial role in hundreds of biochemical pathways, correcting deficiencies by supplementation should always be taken into consideration.
With the half life of Magnesium being 42 days, correcting deficiencies will often require long-term supplementation.