The proliferation of instant and processed food has made it more challenging for good nutrients to end up in your children’s bodies. Children who are picky eaters tend to gravitate toward fast food meals that have zero nutritional value.
When a food ingredient is processed, most of its original nutritional value gets lost because its vitamins and minerals are destroyed through the procedures done. The simple peeling of a fruit’s outer layers removes the essential fibers and phytochemicals vital to one’s health. That is why it’s necessary to make children understand the value of eating right and the importance of a balanced diet even at an early age.
Children need a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals found in whole foods. Not many parents realize that this includes magnesium. Many parents prioritize vitamins that they are very familiar with and are unaware that some specific vitamins and minerals provide an essential function to their child’s growth.
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a chemical element or mineral essential to the body’s function. It helps keep the bones strong and the heart rhythm steady and pumping normally.
What Happens When A Child Becomes Deficient In Magnesium?
Since many children today are pretty tricky to feed good nutritious food, it becomes natural that they are deficient in specific vitamins and minerals, including magnesium. Magnesium deficiency can result in the following symptoms:
• Muscle cramps
• Low energy and fatigue
• Eyelid twitching
• Muscle weakness
• Teeth grinding
• Disturbed sleep patterns
What Is The Recommended Amount For Kids To Take?
• 80mg for children 1-3 years old
• 130mg for children 4-8 years old
• 240mg for children nine years old and above
If you want to give magnesium to your kids, you may find it naturally in food. But if you feel challenged preparing foods rich in magnesium for kids, you may try giving them supplements. Just ensure to choose a reliable supplement store.
To provide you with an idea, here are examples of foods rich in magnesium:
• Dark chocolate
• Seeds like flax, chia, and pumpkin
• Fatty fish like salmon and halibut
• Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and mustard greens
Incorporating these foods into your meals may not be as easy; fortunately, you can find plenty of recipes online. But why do children need magnesium? Here are a few of the reasons:
1. It Can Prevent Tooth Decay
Magnesium helps absorb calcium in the body. An adequate amount of calcium helps make teeth strong. More so, it can prevent dental carry, especially if one does excellent dental hygiene practices.
You would often see a child with a mouth full of damaged teeth and the mom explaining that she never gets her child near any candy and that her child always brushes their teeth three times a day. You may wonder why the child’s teeth are deteriorating. It could be because even if the parent monitors their child’s oral health, they may still be deficient in magnesium, causing dental problems. Hence, magnesium is essential for healthy bones and teeth.
2. Help Manage A Child’s Mood
You probably haven’t heard of the term GABA or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. It is a neurotransmitter that inhibits impulses between the nerve cells and the brain. A child may suffer from anxiety and mood disorders when there is a low level of GABA in the brain. Research shows that GABA has a calming and relaxing effect on the nervous system.
Magnesium helps maintain the level of GABA in a child’s brain. When the GABA levels are ideal, it helps keep a child calm, focused, and happy. In older kids, research shows a higher intake of magnesium led to a decrease in externalizing behavior such as aggression and attention problems.
The main thing that magnesium does is control the cortisol stress response. Cortisol is the body’s fight-or-flight response. If this is not regulated, that’s when stress kicks in. For a child that is unable to manage their emotions, the role of magnesium is specifically essential.
3. Help Them Sleep Better
Does it ever bother you as a parent that even if you have prepared your child to sleep, scrubbed them clean, fed them enough, and taken away their gadgets, they still wouldn’t sleep? And if they did fall asleep for the slightest chance, they would wake up at a minor scratch, and you would need to make them fall back asleep again.
For a parent who works two jobs, this could be very frustrating. You wish your child would do the same when you feel tired and go to bed. But most of the time, that’s not the reality, and children today are getting harder to convince to sleep early and longer.
Magnesium can help with that dilemma. This essential mineral helps with the production of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a substance found explicitly in your stomach and intestines. It helps regulate mood, anxiety, and happiness. More importantly, serotonin helps regulate the portion of one’s brain that controls sleeping and waking.
Magnesium helps promote serotonin, and when your child’s serotonin levels are enough, they’ll likely fall asleep faster and longer. You may already know what a night of good restful sleep can do to a child. When a child has enough sleep, they’ll be able to grow healthier, their muscles and bones become stronger, their mood is better, and their energy recharged. They’ll be able to face another day full of stamina and brightness.
4. Help Build Healthy Muscles
With all the activities and running around your child does every day, they need healthy muscles and bones. Magnesium can help promote the flexibility of all the muscles in a child’s body. If a child has low levels of magnesium, it can manifest in muscle contractions such as cramps.
Do you ever wonder why, despite giving your child sufficient water to keep them hydrated, they’re still constipated and don’t move their bowels daily? It could be because the muscles in their stomach and intestines are contracted and stiff due to magnesium deficiency.
Giving your child magnesium through food or supplements can help keep their gut healthy by keeping their stomach muscle relaxed and not contracted. Magnesium is also beneficial for the heart, lungs, and skeletal muscles.
When the child’s skeletal muscles are relaxed, they may feel less anxious and irritable and much happier and more focused. It is believed that gut and brain health are connected profoundly, and magnesium has the potential to help in this area, especially with children’s health. It is now a fascinating emerging research study.
5. Helps Regulate Their Blood Sugar
Research shows that children with type 1 diabetes have hypomagnesemia or magnesium deficiency. And giving these children oral magnesium supplements helps in glycemic control, eventually delaying diabetic complications.
It has been found that hypomagnesemia results in insulin resistance for children with diabetes. Insulin resistance happens when cells in your body don’t respond well to insulin resulting in your body’s overproduction of this substance. And because your blood can’t transform insulin into energy, it leads to a high blood sugar level. If hypomagnesemia is left untreated, it could lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.
And so, an adequate amount of magnesium is essential for children at risk of developing diabetes.
6. Helps With Energy Production
Even if you give your kids sufficient food with the right balance of nutrients, if their body doesn’t have the means to regulate this food and turn them into fuel for energy, it would be useless.
Magnesium helps in this aspect by activating ATP or adenosine triphosphate, which is the body’s fundamental unit of energy. Magnesium aids in metabolizing food into energy so kids can do all the fun things they do daily.
7. Help In Weight-Management
Obesity has been a health issue that plagues the world. In the United States, 14.7 million children and adolescents are considered obese. This occurrence could be due to the easy access to junk and fast food, illiteracy, and low-income status of families. Magnesium can significantly help in this aspect. This essential mineral boosts metabolism, improves gut health, and, as mentioned, enhances mood, all of which are critical factors in overeating.
Children on the heavier scale could be stress-eating because they cannot manage their emotions. Magnesium can help with regulating mood, so it’s essential in preventing kids from overeating. It is common knowledge that insufficient sleep causes one to overeat. Since magnesium helps promote good sleep, it also would likely prevent kids from overeating.
Children need all the help they can get when it comes to knowing what’s good for their growing bodies. As parents, you must oversee what they eat at all times. It may not be easy to ask them to eat leafy greens, but you have to do it. There may be a few strategies online that you can utilize to make them eat healthy food without any force. But if that still doesn’t work, you might need to take the supplements route.