The role of magnesium
Magnesium plays a primary role in your child’s health, but it’s not often discussed. Let’s take a closer look at what it does and where we can get it.
Magnesium is a super mineral. It encourages lots of other vitamins and minerals to do what they’re supposed to. It helps to extract energy from food and it plays a part in multiple systems within your little one’s body.
BENEFITS OF MAGNESIUM
Heart health and immunity
Magnesium keeps your child’s heart rhythm healthy. It keeps the connection strong between the nerves that tell the heart to beat and the muscles make the heartbeat, so that everything works as it should.
Magnesium keeps the immune system strong, especially when it is fighting something off. It reinforces the ability of white blood cells to combat bugs and germs affecting our children.
Teeth and bones
Magnesium makes our child’s teeth and bones stronger and healthier. It helps maintain bone density and can stave off some bone-related illnesses, such as osteoporosis. Research has shown that the amount of magnesium consumed by a child is an accurate indicator of their bone health as they grow up.
Combined with calcium, magnesium works to promote muscle function. It will relieve sore or tight muscles and can even aid flexibility. It works with calcium to optimise muscle contraction and relaxation. Magnesium also assists the body in using protein to help your little one grow big and strong!
This mineral is great for helping our children to relax, and is particularly helpful for those who struggle a little with sleeping. It can balance out signals in the brain that may make our children too hyperactive, providing them with a sense of calm.
FOODS TO INCLUDE
There are lots of options when it comes to getting some magnesium in your child’s diet. It’s recommended to take advantage of this variety and not just provide their magnesium from a sole food source, so that they can receive all of the other vitamins and minerals that this wide variety of foods will provide. Magnesium rich foods include:
- Leafy greens, such as spinach or bok choy
- Lentils and beans, such as black beans or edamame beans
- Nuts and seeds, such as chia seeds, almonds or cashews
- Whole grains, such as brown rice or oats
- Fish, such as tuna or salmon
- Fruit, such as bananas or avocados
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli
HOW MUCH DOES MY CHILD NEED?
The recommended daily intake of magnesium for your little one depends on what age they are.
- For children aged 1-3 years, the recommended amount is 80 milligrams per day
- For children aged 4-8 years, the recommended amount is 130 milligrams per day
- For children aged 9-13 years, the recommended amount is 240 milligrams per day
The above amounts are the totals that you should provide to your child, depending on their age, from both foods and supplements. As always, it’s preferable to get the whole amount of magnesium from food alone but supplementation is also an option, especially in cases where there is a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium deficiency isn’t something that most people have to worry about. There are some illnesses that can result in low magnesium levels, such as diabetes. For most children, however, a lack of magnesium comes from not intaking enough through their diet. This is yet another reason why we need to do our best to ensure that they’re eating a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet!
There are plenty of warning signs that your child may be experiencing some form of magnesium deficiency, including nausea, vomiting, fatigue, muscle soreness or twitching, loss of appetite and skin sensations such as itchiness or numbness. If you are concerned, be sure to consult with your child’s doctor for diagnosis and peace of mind.
Magnesium deficiency can also present itself as a change in your little one’s emotional state, not just their physical one. They may become frustrated and grumpy, have difficulty sleeping, struggle to maintain focus, and feel anxious. Of course, there are lots of reasons that your child may be going through any of these but magnesium deficiency is one of them!
DOES MY CHILD NEED SUPPLEMENTS?
Diet is very important for the all-round health of our precious children. Ensuring that they are getting what they need from their food can prevent so many issues and make their lives a lot more pleasant – even if they don’t want to eat their greens!
There are some cases, however, where supplementation is a good idea. Magnesium supplements may give your child that little boost they need, if their body isn’t receiving enough of the mineral, or is struggling to hold on to it. There should be plenty of discussion with a trusted medical professional before choosing this path to ensure that it’s absolutely necessary.