6 signs your child might be low in magnesium and how transdermal* magnesium can help
* Absorbing magnesium through the skin instead of taking tablets or oral solutions. For example by taking Epsom salt baths or using Magnesium Oil spray.
1 - Your child is Tired but Wired and has difficulty falling asleep
Of course there are lots of reasons your child might take a long time to nod off – not wanting to miss out on what’s happening (if only they knew it was most likely just tidying up, finishing chores and watching the news – hardly riveting stuff!), wanting to spend more time with mum or dad, being nervous of the dark …
But lack of magnesium can disrupt good sleep patterns and make falling asleep tricky. Topping up magnesium before bed helps to relax muscles and the nervous system, calming little bodies and minds ready for sleep. Magnesium is also necessary for the sleep-regulating production of melatonin.
2 - Growing pains and cramps
There are different schools of thought around what causes growing pains - those tense, cramping, crawling sensations that usually affect the legs, often around bedtime. We do know that a lack of magnesium and too much calcium in the body causes muscles to become tense. Increasing your child's levels of magnesium can help muscles to relax, and reduces spasms. Muscle twitches are also a sure sign of low magnesium in children. It means their nervous system is over excited and is firing off small groups of muscles to try to release the tension. You can help relieve these spasms and twitches with magnesium.
3 - Your child is irritable and grumpy
Magnesium calms the nervous system and supports our adrenal glands that are overworked by stress. It’s a bit like a natural sedative for your nerves and emotions. For even better results, make sure mum and dad have topped up their magnesium too. That way, if your child is giving you sass, you’ll remain calmer in response. Because even adults can have tantrums if they’re low in magnesium!
4 - Difficulty paying attention
Carolyn Dean, ‘The Magnesium Miracle’ notes that ADHD is a condition that is associated with magnesium deficiency. Dr Leo Galland speculates that hyperactive children need extra magnesium due to their constantly high adrenaline levels (high adrenaline causes wastage of magnesium in the body). Studies show that supplementation with magnesium improves behaviour, impulsivity and hyperactivity. As well as focus, magnesium can support memory. Certain brain receptors that are important for learning and memory depend on magnesium for their regulation. Magnesium helps to open the receptor to useful information while at the same time helping to ignore unessential background noise.
5 - Your child seems more anxious than normal
Excessive worry over things that don’t normally bother your child could be a sign that their magnesium levels are low. An example might be - if they’ve been training more than normal in the run up to school cross country (which means they’ve been delving into their supplies of magnesium - though exercise is good, it’s also a stress on the body that uses up magnesium), they might feel more anxious than usual about the event.
Research has found that people with anxiety have lower magnesium levels. Magnesium is necessary to produce serotonin, the brain's feel good chemical, plus it supports our adrenal glands that are overworked when stressful events add up. So a regular boost of magnesium can help calm your child's feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
6 - Your child seems low in energy/lethargic
Even though magnesium is known to relax rather than stimulate, conversely, it also provides your body with more energy. Magnesium is needed to make ATP – the molecules that provide energy to all the cells in your body. It also helps convert the glucose in your food into energy. With magnesium needed for over 300 functions in the body, it’s no wonder low levels of it can leave children feeling tired.
I do realise that these signs pretty much sound like what children and toddlers sometimes just are, as a matter of course as they figure out life. And that they could be signs of other health issues too.
But it’s safe and easy to use transdermal magnesium to enjoy the benefits of this essential mineral, as well as encouraging a lovely pre-bed routine.
So my advice would be to start adding Epsom salt baths and magnesium oil foot rubs into your child’s evenings and see what differences eventuate.
You might not see changes at once (though we do get lots of feedback about children experiencing a better night’s sleep after any given Epsom salt bath), and the general approach is little and often is best. Why is regular use of magnesium beneficial?
As humans, of any age, we use our supplies of magnesium daily (magnesium does have over 300 jobs to do in the human body after all) so anything we can do to keep it topped up daily is a win.
For my children this looks like (trying to get them) eating magnesium-rich snacks like nuts, reducing sugary treats and fizzy drinks (harder now they're older and making their own choices), daily magnesium oil, and twice-weekly Epsom salt baths.
With food sources becoming more depleted of their magnesium levels due to modern farming and refining practices, alternative ways of getting magnesium are becoming more important. And a relaxing soak in the bath is so much more than just getting a boost of magnesium.
It’s a lovely marker between the end of a busy day and the start of relaxing into the land of nod. It can be a fun space to shed off the stresses of the day. There’s just something wonderful about splashing your limbs around in water. It’s soothing for mind and body. When our children were young, a bath worked really well on those days when it looked like they were about to nod off before dinner. And you know that means they won't eat properly , then it will take AGES to get them to bed that night. A quick splash in the bath revived them and kept them going, grouch-free, until 7pm.
Your child might not have a bath every night. Especially as they get older and more time-poor with after school activities, sports and homework. Magnesium oil, it's your time to shine! 15 seconds is all you need to massage the oil into your child's skin. The soles of the feet is the best area for this as it absorbs well and they don't tend to experience the magnesium 'tingle' that some people can feel when applied to places like their legs or back.
Top tip - you can take longer than 15 seconds to do this and use it as a moment of 'time in' with your child. It's a particularly good method to use with tweens/teens who've had a tough day and aren't in the mood to talk, but you know they'd benefit from a little TLC. Some human touch and connection. All you're doing is massaging the magnesium oil into their feet or lower legs. Nobody has to say a word. But you're letting them know you're there for them.
Is a 15 minute Epsom salt bath or 15 second Magnesium Oil massage something you can add to your child's daily routine?
If you live in New Zealand and would like to try our natural bath soaks or magnesium oil sprays, sign up for our Weekly Soak email and you'll receive a code for $5 off your first order over $50 PLUS a free bath soak worth $14.50!