You may have last heard of magnesium in chemistry class when you were studying the periodic table of Mendeleev, but the element is now back in the spotlight. We tell you what it’s responsible for and why your kids need it.
Why is magnesium important?
Magnesium, like calcium, sodium and potassium, is considered a vital macro-mineral that is required in large amounts (>100 mg/day) for proper and healthy body function. It supports over 300 chemical reactions in our cells and is necessary for fundamental molecular processes such as DNA, RNA and protein synthesis, energy production and 296 others.
But with the advent of chaotic diets and the spread of food allergies and intolerances that exclude foods rich in magnesium (such as nuts and seeds) from the diet, many are becoming deficient in this element. Children are the most vulnerable in such cases, because their bodies are growing, they need energy, magnesium is beneficial for the CNS and the locomotor system, it ensures proper development, reduces stress levels and helps to fight fatigue.
This element is directly involved in the process of bone mineralization and growth. Magnesium is as important as calcium and vitamin D for the health of the body in general, and bones in particular.
Magnesium helps muscles work
Magnesium regulates the transmission of impulses from the brain and nerves to muscles, it helps them relax and calcium helps them contract. Muscle cramps and spasms can indicate a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is responsible for the digestive system
It helps the digestive system relax (all the same as with muscles), moving food efficiently through the digestive tract. If your child suffers from constipation – most likely their body is crying out for low magnesium levels.
Magnesium ensures good sleep
Research shows that magnesium levels can fluctuate in cells depending on the time of day. This fluctuation is necessary to keep the body functioning throughout the 24 hours. Low magnesium levels give poor sleep and insomnia, but enough of this element in the body can help synchronize with natural processes, adjust circadian rhythms and ensure great sleep at night and wakefulness during the day. Every parent wants this for themselves and their child.
Magnesium makes us happier
Magnesium helps the body convert tryptophan into serotonin (peace of mind, it just means that with good levels of magnesium in the body, the mood will be great). Serotonin affects mood, appetite, sleep, body temperature, cognitive abilities and social behavior. Depression, anxiety and panic attacks can occur when serotonin levels are low, so magnesium is an essential mineral for mental health.
Magnesium makes us smarter
It promotes optimal communication between neurons and nerve cells in our brains. Scientists have found that increasing magnesium in the brain improves memory and learning in old and young rats, and can also be a prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. By the way, low levels of magnesium are seen in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, so it is important to monitor levels of this mineral.
Magnesium helps heal wounds
Platelets are cellular components of the blood that promote clotting and wound healing, preventing heavy bleeding. Studies show that in both animals and humans, magnesium promoted platelet production and proper wound healing. When children run and get abrasions and cuts, look out for heavy bleeding, which can be a sign of magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium prevents type 2 diabetes
Studies that have been conducted on volunteers have demonstrated a link between low magnesium and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Specifically, foods rich in magnesium can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, even if the person is obese. Unfortunately, this type of diabetes is becoming more common in children, so foods high in magnesium can be a good prevention of this disease.
How to Detect Magnesium Deficiency in Children
Magnesium deficiency can be caused by various factors, but the main culprit is usually an unhealthy diet (candy and chips won’t do any good). In addition, stress and intense exercise can also deplete the body. Just imagine the stress of the school year, school uniforms, homework, exams, graduation and entrance exams, twos and fives, distance learning, new acquaintances and experiences.
Although the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are on the surface, they are often hard to detect because they are confused with normal everyday mishaps. The easiest way to spot a possible magnesium deficiency in your child is to check for signs of poor sleep and constipation.
If your child is becoming hyper irritable and grumpy, it may be worth reconsidering their diet, which also indicates low magnesium levels in the body.
Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite, while in rare cases seizures, heart rhythm disorders and neuropsychiatric changes may occur.
Add these foods to your child’s daily diet
What to eat to restore magnesium levels
The recommended daily dose of magnesium for adults is 300-400 mg, with women needing less than men. Children need 80 mg a day for ages 1 to 3 and 130 mg a day for ages 4 to 8.
Here’s a list of magnesium-rich foods to include in your children’s daily diet.
1 cup = 60 mg
1 tablespoon = 44 mg
2 slices = 46 mg
8 ounces = 42 mg
1/4 cup cooked = 39 mg
9 nuts = 37 mg
1 medium = 32 mg
1/4 cup = 30 mg
1/2 cup = 27 mg
1/4 cup = 25 mg
1 cup = 25 mg
1 tablespoon = 25 mg
1 tablespoon = 25 mg
1/2 cup, diced = 22 mg