What are your kids’ favourite foods? Legumes, seeds and leafy greens? Mackerel, perhaps?
Not likely, and that’s why most children aren’t getting enough magnesium. ‘Kid foods’ like pizza, pasta, toast and cereal are woefully inadequate when it comes to what may be the most important nutrient for total health.
Why is magnesium so important for kids?
Kids Have Stress Too!
First, magnesium is absolutely essential for coping with stress. Our very cells need magnesium to downgrade the instinctive stress response, and to reinstate calm.
And have no doubt, stress is an intrinsic part of childhood.
The very act of growing is a stressor. It places huge demands on the body, which requires more energy and rest to repair. At the same time, growth triggers shifts in hormones, all of which can be experienced as a continuous state of flux.
In fact, the physical stress of growing up may well be overshadowed by the emotional and mental stressors.
A day in the life of childhood is fraught with drama. They’re immersed in a highly interactive, highly dynamic environment with other little people who are just learning to be sensitive and kind. Just think: when was the last time you had to hang out with friends who bit, shoved, or called you names? Right. But our kids face it every day.
Add to that, a child’s world is full of the unknown, triggering outsized fears.
Remember nightmares? There’s a reason kids have more nightmares than adults: their developing minds are constantly processing a world of unknowns, which to the brain appear as threats.
So, routine physical stress and emotional stress place serious demands on childrens’ magnesium stores.
Healthy Growth and Development
Equally important, magnesium plays a vital role in healthy growth and development.
That’s because magnesium is a co-factor for an estimated 700-800 enzyme systems throughout the body. It may well be the hardest-working nutrient of all!
What does this mean in practical terms?
Kids need magnesium for:
- Building healthy bones and teeth
- Preventing insulin resistance associated with type 2 diabetes
- Regulating blood sugar, preventing spikes and drops
- Energy production
- Digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Prevention of muscle cramps
- Healthy nervous system
- Managing the symptoms of asthma
- Regular bowel movements
- Mood regulation
- Preventing tension headaches and migraines
- Hormone health
How Does Magnesium Deficiency Manifest in Children?
Children exhibit many of the magnesium deficiency symptoms that we see in adults.
It’s important to note too that “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, juvenile delinquency, and childhood depression are associated with magnesium deficiency” (The Magnesium Miracle, Kindle version page 1854).
According to Dr. Dean, it’s possible these conditions are caused by magnesium deficiency (p. 1855). We can’t be sure, but we do know that magnesium is essential for children’s physical, emotional and mental well-being.
How Much Magnesium Do Children Need?
Some children may need more magnesium.
“Dr. Leo Galland, author of Superimmunity for Kids, speculates that hyperactive children need extra magnesium due to their constantly high adrenaline levels.” For these children, Dr. Galland recommends 6 mg per pound of weight per day. (The Magnesium Miracle, Kindle version page 1872).
A forty pound child would thus need 240 mg of magnesium per day. That equates to about 10 cups of raw spinach, 1.5 cups of cooked spinach, ¼ to ½ cup of seeds/nuts, or 8 oz. of a fish like mackerel.
As always, we echo Dr. Carolyn Dean in advising that you dole out the dose incrementally throughout the day. Avoid offering a child their full dose at one time – mainly because of the laxative effect, but also because you’ll see better results in addressing symptoms of deficiency.
What might this look like? You might offer your child a warm cup in the morning and evening, or you might dissolve their total dose in hot water and then add it to a bottle of cold water, to sip throughout the day.