When your child is sick, you’re used to running through a mental checklist of possible causes. But magnesium deficiency is often misinterpreted and can be difficult to diagnose. Fortunately, if you can spot the signs of magnesium deficieny early on, you can properly treat it sooner.
The most common are poor sleep, digestive issues, low energy, irritable mood, and headaches. None of these symptoms may be a cause for concern on their own, but together, they can indicate that your child needs some extra support with dietary magnesium supplementation or magnesium rich food.
Keep reading this guide to learn the possible causes of magnesium deficiency in children, how to identify the signs, and the best way to treat it.
Why Magnesium Matters
Your child’s healthy bones, immune system, and overall health all depend on dietary magnesium intake. This mineral is one of the best vitamins for kids immune system and has a lot of responsibilities because it’s needed for roughly 80% of your child’s metabolic functions.
- Ensures a steady heartbeat
- Supports a healthy immune system
- Keeps healthy bones strong
- Prevents tooth decay
- Regulates blood sugar levels
- And more
Because it’s involved in more than 300 different bodily chemical reactions, low magnesium levels can weaken your child’s growing bones and negatively impact their levels of other vital minerals, such as calcium. But, what exactly causes low magnesium levels?
Potential Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
A child’s magnesium levels can be low due to a variety of reasons, such as:
- Poor diet – Children are known for being picky eaters and favoring sugary snacks over vegetables, but this can negatively impact their health and magnesium levels. Regularly consuming too much sugar or processed foods can leave children with insufficient levels of magnesium.
- Stress and anxiety – High levels of stress and anxiety can cause a loss of magnesium. This is because when children are under stress, their bodies respond by burning up magnesium. So, even if your child’s diet is rich in magnesium, stress can negate it.
- Health problems – Health problems, such as poor nutrient absorption, celiac disease, diabetes, or chronic diarrhea, can be the cause behind your child’s low magnesium levels. In these instances, magnesium supplementation may be necessary to guarantee your child is getting all of their required oral magnesium.
Common Signs of Magnesium Deficiency in Children
Regardless of what may be causing your child’s magnesium deficiency, the first step in properly treating it is understanding the signs to look out for. Below, we’ll discuss the 5 most common signs of magnesium deficiency in kids.
#1 Poor Sleep
Because your child’s magnesium levels play a significant role in how much they sleep at night, one of the most common signs of magnesium deficiency is poor sleep. Magnesium helps your child’s body and muscles relax and allows for the natural sleep hormone—melatonin—to do its job.
Sleeping problems on their own may not always be related to an underlying health issue. However, if other symptoms are appearing as well, it may be the sign of magnesium deficiency.
How can you tell the difference between a couple of harmless nights of poor sleep and poor sleep due to magnesium deficiency?
Your child's levels may be low if they’re:
- Constantly and frequently waking up in the middle of the night
- Waking up at night complaining of muscle cramps or stomach pains
Why Sleep is Important for Children
Children develop rapidly, so their sleep needs and habits are going to be different from those of adults. While you may be able to have a productive day with seven or so hours of sleep, this may not be the case for your child.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, children who are five to 12 years old, or school-aged, need about nine to 12 hours of sleep every night.2 You’ll know your child is getting enough sleep at night if:
- They wake up before their alarm or only need to be awakened once or twice to get out of bed.
- They don’t need to catch-up on sleep on the weekends.
- They don’t complain about being tired all day.
Magnesium oils can be an effective method for upping your child’s magnesium intake and helping them to sleep better at night. It’s absorbed through the skin which is a fast-acting method for relaxing muscles and nerves before bedtime.
#2 Digestive Issues
Another common tell-tale sign of magnesium deficiency is poor digestion and issues with constipation. Put simply, magnesium plays a part in every step of the digestive process.
Curious to know how it all happens?
- When your child eats food, magnesium assists in saliva enzyme production.
- When it’s time for the food to be digested, magnesium activates enzymes that help the body break down proteins and carbohydrates.
Magnesium also has a natural laxative effect on the body. By adding more water into your child’s intestines, it helps to stimulate bowel movements.3 However, if there’s a lack of magnesium in the body, your child may have a harder time going to the bathroom. As a result, they may suffer from stomach issues and even muscle cramps.
This also explains why too much magnesium can cause diarrhea, nausea, and other issues. When magnesium levels are too high, the body will clear excess magnesium through bowel movements and the kidneys. To stay regular naturally, your child needs just the right amount of magnesium.
#3 Low Energy Levels
Another of magnesium’s responsibilities is to regulate blood sugar and turn food into energy. Thus, low magnesium levels result in low energy levels. But how can you tell when your child’s sleepiness is magnesium-related or simply a one-time occurence?
After a busy, schedule-heavy day of school and after school activities, it’s normal to hear your child complain that they're tired. They may even do so to get out of cleaning their room or washing the dishes. However, as a parent, you can probably tell when their tiredness is the result of a long day or a sign of a deeper issue.
When simple tasks seem to deplete more of your child’s energy than usual, or if they’re experiencing other magnesium deficiency symptoms (such as constipation and poor sleep), then it’s likely due to low magnesium levels.
#4 Irritable or Grumpy Moods
Children, like adults, have their good days and their bad days. But if your child is experiencing more bad days than good, there may be more going on beneath the surface. Magnesium helps with brain function, so it can affect your child’s mood and behavior.
In addition to irritability and grumpiness, low magnesium levels in children can cause the following behavioral issues:
- Refusal to go to bed
- Increased anxiety, or anxious feelings
So before you send your child to time-out or write off their poor behavior as a temper tantrum, consider whether they’re showcasing other signs of magnesium deficiency. This can also help rule out other issues, such as ADHD or other behavioral challenges.
Headaches can range from being a simple nuisance to being debilitating, but usually only last for a short time. However, low magnesium levels can make headaches and migraines in children more frequent. If your child already suffers from bad migraines, a magnesium deficiency will exacerbate their typical symptoms.
Studies exploring the connection between magnesium and headaches have concluded that magnesium blocks certain signals or chemicals that may contribute to migraines, especially those with auras or vision changes.4 Along with that, low magnesium levels may cause the brain to constrict, which can also lead to more frequent headaches and migraines.
The Recommended Daily Intake
Adding the right amount of magnesium to your child’s diet can help their development, ensure restful sleep, promote a healthy gut, regulate their mood and energy levels, and prevent headaches. However, too much magnesium can overwhelm their kidneys.
So, how much magnesium is the right amount?
Depending on age and gender, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends the following daily intake:5
- For infants 7 to 12 months – 75 mg
- For 1 to 3 year olds – 80 mg
- For 4 to 8 year olds – 130 mg
- For 9 to 13 year olds – 240 mg
- For 14 to 18 year old males – 410 mg
- For 14 to 18 year old females – 360 mg
Foods That Are Rich in Magnesium
One way to prevent magnesium deficiency or address your child’s low magnesium levels is to ensure their diet is as magnesium-rich as possible. Foods that are high in magnesium include:
- Dark chocolate
- Cooked spinach
- Peanut Butter
However, because these foods have different levels of magnesium, it may be hard to monitor your child’s exact intake.
For a more simple solution, try using magnesium supplements to boost your child’s levels. Organic, vegan-friendly magnesium supplements are a natural way to support your child’s overall health and wellbeing, without having to rely on diet alone or medications with heavy side effects.
Cymbiotika: Trusted Provider of Quality Magnesium Supplements
If you’re concerned that your child may need more magnesium, choose a company you can trust to provide quality, healthy magnesium supplements.
At Cymbiotikia, we’re committed to full transparency. This means that we share every detail about our products—from their ingredients list to their product lab results. For example, our Magnesium L-Threonate supplement comes with a Certificate of Analysis (COA) which is proof that our product is not only effective, but also safe for your child to consume.
To treat your child’s magnesium deficiency and promote a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, choose organic, vegan-friendly magnesium supplements from Cymbiotika.
- Harvard Health Publishing. What you should know about magnesium. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-you-should-know-about-magnesium2
- Cleveland Clinic. Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-tell-if-your-child-is-getting-enough-sleep/
- Michigan Medicine University of Michigan. Magnesium for Constipation. https://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/MBCP/Magnesium.pdf
- WebMD. Magnesium for Migraine. https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/magnesium-migraine
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/