Magnesium deficiency in children linked to ADHD
Updated: Jan 13
Did you know there's a very good chance you - and your kids - are magnesium deficient? It's not something you hear about so much in Canada or the US, though it's a fact all over the world: at least half and up to 80% of the US population doesn't get enough magnesium, but as a society we seem to be overlooking the importance of magnesium, especially in children. In other parts of the world like Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc. where kids' health and the natural movement has moved into the mainstream, this conversation has been taking place for a long time.
Why are we lacking in magnesium these days?
In essence, you're supposed to be able to get magnesium from foods like dark leafy greens, whole grains, avocados, yogurt and bananas. But that is no longer happening because industrial farming practices have so depleted soils that fruits and vegetables contain about half the magnesium they did a couple of generations ago.
So now, even if you're eating a healthy diet, it may not be enough. And children are especially vulnerable because their bodies are so active (exercise, as well as the production of stress hormones, is the primary thing that depletes your body of magnesium) and they are likely to consume sugary, processed foods devoid of magnesium, while being less likely to consume good sources of magnesium such as nuts, seeds, fish, pure dark chocolate, and beans.
Why is magnesium so important?
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and as such, it is essential for life. As well as being a mineral, magnesium is also an electrolyte, responsible for all conductivity in the body. It regulates over 300 bodily reactions, and is especially essential to heart function. Without electrolytes like magnesium, your muscles don't work, your heart can't beat, and your brain can’t receive signals. To put it bluntly, we need magnesium or we will die. Without enough, we stop functioning at our best, and we begin to get sick.
Top signs of magnesium deficiency in children
Without sufficient magnesium, the picture doesn't look pretty - but the symptoms are so common, perhaps that is why lack of magnesium is overlooked as a possible culprit. Basically, all the disorders that are related to stress and anxiety, from OCD to high blood pressure to aggression to insomnia to eye twitches to migraines, are negatively affected by low magnesium levels. Chronic disorders like depression, fatigue, back pain, fibromyalgia and sleep disturbances can also be made worse by, if not caused by, magnesium deficiency. Lack of adequate magnesium intake has also been linked to serious conditions like asthma, heart arrhythmia and diabetes.
In children, magnesium deficiency can look like:
Hyperactivity, disruptive behaviour, restlessness, difficulty focusing (ADHD symptoms)
Grouchy, short fuse type behaviour on an ongoing basis
Painful cramps, muscle tension/spasms, or 'growing pains'
Excessive worry and anxiety
What to do about magnesium deficiency in kids
Adults can take a supplement, and while there are specially formulated magnesium supplements for children, not everyone wants to get into the pill thing for their children (definitely see your doctor first). The science is there - study after study after study reports that raising magnesium levels in children with ADHD symptoms significantly improves mood and behaviours. So short of force-feeding kale at every meal, what's a parent to do?
The answer may lie in Epsom salt baths. Epsom salts are not actually salt (you can do the taste test, though we don't recommend it!) Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, which penetrates the skin to raise magnesium levels and transmit all the benefits of magnesium, from relaxation of the mind and body and better sleep to improved circulation and flushing out toxins. We guarantee that a colourful bath scented with lovely essential oils is going to go over a lot better with the littles than kale or pills!
Try one of our kids' bath products for yourself and see the difference this wonderful mineral makes.